Earlier this year, Gillette entered some new territory as the brand decided to start making more pronounced stands on how masculinity is defined. The brand’s 90-second spot directed by Kim Gehrig tackling toxic masculinity was an interesting and welcome pivot (though it did face its share of slings and arrows from the internet)—and also a straightforward and bold approach.
Today, the brand launched a new ad that shows a traditional rite of passage: a dad teaching his son how to shave. What makes this ad unique, however, is that this heartwarming moment features Toronto-based transgender activist Samson Bonkeabantu Brown and his father.
As expected, Brown’s dad coaches him on technique and implores him not to be scared, giving him a great deal of confidence as he navigates his first time using a razor.
Creatively, the ad from Grey Canada is stripped down to the essence of the moment, which allows it to carry a profound weight.
“As I dove deeper into the stories of the subjects, I really started to understand how big of a moment the ‘first shave’ was to them,” said Angie Bird, of Skin and Bones, who directed the film.
Yet in its simplicity, in its much more quiet and intimate approach, there is no clutter in what the message is truly about: happiness.
“I didn’t know that there was a term for the type of person that I was,” Brown notes in the spot. “I went into my transition just wanting to be happy and glad [that] I’m at the point where I’m able to shave.”
Indeed, it is a joyous moment for father and son that ends on a positive note, yet with a significant rallying cry from Brown about the fact that it’s not only he who is transitioning, but everyone around him as well.
In response to the video, which was posted on the brand’s Facebook page, Brown acknowledged that the ad can have a significant impact well beyond today.
“Thank you so much, Gillette, for allowing me to share such an important moment in a man’s life with my father. I look forward to the great things you’re going to continue doing to encourage us all to be our best selves,” he wrote.
“I love that Gillette is deciding to tell more diverse stories,” added Bird. “I think it’s important for brands to connect to a larger audience and tell stories that we haven’t seen before.”
Client: Procter & Gamble
Agency: Grey Canada
Global Creative Chairman: Per Pedersen
Worldwide Creative Officer: John Patroulis
Chief Creative Officers: Patrick Scissons, Emiliano Gonzalez De Pietri, Helen Pak
Deputy Chief Creative Officer: Jeff Stamp
Executive Chief Creative Officer: James Ansley
Copywriter: Graeme Campbell
Art Director: Logan Gabel
Producer: Sam Benson
EVP, Account Director: Brian Weston
SVP, Account Director: Elizabeth Gilchrist
VP, Account Director: Darlene Remlinger
Account Executive: Kate Beaman
Production Company: Skin and Bones Film Company
Director: Angie Bird
Director of Photography: Jackson Parrell
Executive Producer: Liane Thomas
Line Producer: Michelle Woodward
Editorial Company: Rooster Post Production
Editor: Izzy Erlich
Assistant Editor: Taylor McWade
Executive Producer: Melissa Kahn
Colorist: Andrew Exworth, The Vanity
Post Production: Fort York
Executive Producer: Sam McLaren
Flame Artist: Paul Binney
Sound Design: Cylinder Sound & Film
Sound Engineer: Cylinder Sound & Film
Executive Producer: Brad Nelson
Music Company: Asche and Spencer