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The manipulation of controversy

In the age of information, we constantly face controversy. Gun control. Immigration. Sexuality. At special events, such as the Super Bowl, companies release advertisements about such issues. In a time where people are attracted to controversial topics, corporations manipulate consumers by manifesting their perspectives to the public.

In light of the #MeToo movement, the razor company Gillette recently released a commercial about bullying and sexual harassment. The commercial, titled “We Believe: The Best Men Can Be,” aims to spread awareness of positive masculinity. It encourages the audience to stop harassment and reminds viewers to set a good example for the “men of the future.”    

Gillette’s website describes its campaign as one that can “play a role in influencing culture.” It claims that the company “encourages men to be their best,…promoting positive, attainable, inclusive and healthy versions of what it means to be a man.”

The company’s campaign clearly brings positive awareness to a major issue. However, I believe that the company exaggerates bullying and sexual misconduct. In the advertisement, it suggests that all males confront these issues on a regular basis, when this is not true. The ominous tone in the advertisement is only there to persuade, not to inform.

Viewers are left to wonder why Gillette did this. The answer: At the end of the day, a company wants to make a profit. It manipulates the public by unnecessarily attracting attention. In this way, consumers are compelled to buy more products. That causes many to ask another question: should we let corporations showcase such major issues?

I believe that it is better to prevent them from discussing controversial issues. Prevention would encourage companies to market their products fairly. We already live in a time when misinformation from biased media is plentiful. There is no reason why we should mislead consumers even more.

I recall watching the 84 Lumber Super Bowl Commercial about a mother and daughter from Mexico trying to cross the border to the United States. The two were about to encounter the wall on the border when the advertisement suddenly ended.

The captivating storyline caused viewers to flock to the company’s website. Soon after, it was overwhelmed by huge amounts of internet traffic. I wondered if the company had intentionally taken a controversial stance so consumers would buy their products.

Social media sent huge waves of backlash at the company. Viewers claimed that 84 Lumber encouraged illegal immigration and CNN called it “a gross distortion of the humanitarian crisis that has unfolded along our southern border,” criticizing the advertisement for its unrealistic depictions. However, others praised 84 Lumber for the commercial’s ending statement, which reads “The will to succeed is always welcome here.”

Some might argue that these commercials are examples of the free expression we are granted in the United States. However, companies should not flaunt controversy for their own benefit. By using overly charged rhetoric, these companies unfairly present themselves to the public.

When viewing commercials such as Gillette’s, we should remember to take their points with a grain of salt. Although the sponsors may want to send a message, they are ultimately motivated to make money through whatever means they can.

By Landon Park, News editor
Editorial cartoon by Amy Lo