Meet the CEO Who Put His Company on the Line to Stand Up to Gillette’s ‘Toxic Masculinity’ Ad

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Editor’s note: The following was written by Ilan Srulovicz, the CEO and founder of Egard Watch Company, explaining why his company produced an ad to counter Gillette’s recent commercial on masculinity.

The story behind making the video is interesting. I made the ad completely alone. The voice in the video is mine and the editing is my own. I was told by most people around me and in my company that making this video was a terrible idea and could not only hurt my brand but me, as the CEO. I used my personal funds on the video because I was worried about the backlash.

The main feedback was, “This will draw attention away from women’s issues,” “The political climate right now won’t support a film like this,” “Ask yourself why no other company is doing it,” etc.

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I considered releasing it anonymously but after some thought, I realized an individual releasing the message wasn’t going to have the same impact as a company doing it. I decided to risk it and post the video. I think what put me over the top is a quote I heard that says all actions come out of either love or fear. Releasing it anonymously felt like fear. Putting my company on the line for a message I believe in felt like love. I went with love.

I created the video for a few reasons. Firstly, I believe the statistics in the video are widely ignored or dismissed. I have tried to bring light to them myself in the past and had a difficult time having them acknowledged as an issue.

The Gillette ad rubbed me the wrong way. I, like the overwhelming majority of men, am absolutely disgusted by sexual assault, rape, bullying, so why throw it in my face as if my “gender” as a whole is toxic? Using terms like “toxic masculinity” is using too broad a stroke to address specific issues — issues which I agree very much need to be addressed, especially after all the crazy stuff we’ve seen in Hollywood. I am not against Gillette trying to start a conversation about assault, but I do have an issue with how they went about it.

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Masculinity can be a beautiful thing, just like femininity. We need to start celebrating each other, not tearing each other down. I also feel that suffering needs to stop being a competition. It shouldn’t be “women vs men.” There are areas where men have it terrible in society. It’s OK to look at those areas and acknowledge it, while also understanding that women have it terrible in other aspects of society. Neither one has to dismiss the other.

We are so polarized, it’s all about “taking sides.” I am guilty of it myself because it’s all we are fed all day long, but I don’t want to be a part of that anymore. None of us, no gender or race, has exclusivity on being terrible or wonderful. Individuality is the measure of a person, not the “identity” or “category” to which you belong.

I can’t blame Gillette for their ad because that message is the norm. It has become pervasive. I can even understand how they believed full well this ad was a great idea and would drive tons of sales. Maybe it will in the end with all the attention it received. We have become so obsessed with defining each other based on these factors that we no longer even communicate properly.

My belief is that if you want to “make men better,” as Gillette claims it wants to do, then the best way to do that is to show the best of us, not the worst. When I see a man risking his life running into a burning building, it makes me want to be better. When I see a father who will stand by his kids no matter what, it makes me want to be better. When I see a soldier putting everything on the line to preserve my freedom, I want to be better. That’s what a man is to me and they represent a far greater majority of men than what Gillette portrayed a man to be.

I don’t feel I want to be better when an add starts off with “toxic masculinity” or a bunch of boys bullying each other and portraying men as caricatures of sexual deviants. I simply close off. Call me triggered, say I “missed the point” but it was my visceral response to seeing it.

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Lift me up if you want to see a change in me, don’t tear me down. These are the messages companies need to be showing and celebrating if they really care about change. I really hope that the video I made gets to a point where it draws enough attention that larger companies start realizing there is a market in promoting positive messages for men.

I feel the same for women as well. I strongly believe that ads celebrating women and empowering women are both beautiful and necessary. It’s not just men who feel this way about what’s going on and many women have reached out to express the importance of positive messages for their kids, husbands, fathers, etc.

I wish the video I made was the norm from companies, not the exception.

Ilan Srulovicz is the CEO and founder of Egard Watch Company.

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