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A scene from Gillette’s recent viral ad campaign that challenges toxic masculinity.

‘Hopping on the woke bandwagon’

Major companies are vying for hearts (and dollars)

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Don’t ask if your dreams are crazy. Ask if they’re crazy enough.”

“Try. Fail. Learn. Keep going like a girl.”

“My Beauty. My Say.”

“It’s only by challenging ourselves to do more that we can get closer to our best.”

You might think these quotes come from self-help books or an Instagram account of cliché tattoos. But they’re actually lines from major advertising campaigns. (Which explains why you now want to run out and buy a new pair of sneakers from Nike, or some pads from Always, a bar of soap from Dove, or a sharp, new razor from Gillette!)

This week, Gillette released a “short film” challenging toxic masculinity. The fallout was typical of many of these kinds of ad campaigns, with some people applauding the company for taking a risky stand and others condemning Gillette for being divisive. Either way, the video is getting a lot of attention with over 21 million views as of the end of this week.

Personally, my favourite reaction so far has been from our videographer, Uytae Lee: “I saw it as an ad.” An obvious observation lost in many of the conversations I’ve seen online.

Uytae basically sees Gillette as just another company “hopping on the woke bandwagon.” What do you think? Does it irk you when advertisers use virtue to sell? Or is it important for these issues to get elevated to national conversation, even if it’s via an ad campaign for profit? Send me an email and I’ll share your responses in an upcoming newsletter.

Did you hear?

  • “How enlightened is Gillette really? Look at these razors. The blue is for males and the pink is for females. Talk about enforcing gender stereotypes.” Fair point made by… Fox News. Yes, I’m sharing a link from Fox News. We don’t want to be echo chambers around here. But I’m curious what you think of the panel’s entire conversation. If you were at that table, what would you add to the conversation?
  • In advertising, we often seemen portrayed as strong and clever breadwinners, and women portrayed as objectified housewives with unrelatable standard of beauty,” says this backgrounder for an online debate on whether or not gender stereotyping in advertising should be banned completely. The discussion is hosted on the platform Kialo, where you can create an account, weigh in and see the pros and cons of each side.
  • Vancouver illustrator Miriam Libicki shares her fears of having her child taken away by the state in the comic, “Who Gets Called an ‘Unfit’ Mother?” The story explores the child welfare system and racism, and points out that “in Canada, 52 per cent of children under 14 in foster care are First Nations, Métis or Inuit youth, despite representing just 8 per cent of that age group.”
  • And this is just cool (if it’s true). Moon gardens are a thing now. Chinese state media Xinhua is reporting that after landing on the far side of the moon, rover Chang’E-4 has successfully sprouted seeds! (To clarify, the seeds aren’t growing on the Moon surface but in some Earth dirt that was also sent up with the craft to see if life could grow on the Moon.)   

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