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The best a man can get? Why some men are brushing off Gillette’s ad campaign





Gillette’s provocative new ad encouraging men to fight toxic masculinity has sparked a backlash.

For those who applaud the commercial, it may appear strange that its seemingly positive message about stamping out bullying and sexual harassment has sparked anger and hurt feelings.

But this is somewhat new terrain in the advertising world: telling men something’s broken and they need to work together to fix it. As a result, some are finding the message hard to take. 

For generations, women have been bombarded with self-improvement ads, mainly focused on their appearance.

But advertising targeting men often portrays them as lovable, clueless dads or the alpha male who gets the girl. Just check out previous Gillette razor ads where women can’t keep their hands off freshly shaven men.

A scene from a Gillette razor ad from the 1990s, where a clean-shaven man attracts female attention. (YoRetroShow/YouTube)

“It was always about a clean-shaven face got you either kissed or stroked by a beautiful woman,” said marketing consultant Tony Chapman.

Now, suddenly, men are sent a moral message about their masculinity instead of the promise of sex, and some aren’t thrilled about it. 

“For men, this is brand new territory. No wonder they’re so angry,” writes Rebecca Reid with the Daily Telegraph in a commentary on the Gillette ad.

‘We’re toxic’

The controversial commercial features a series of vignettes depicting societal problems such as bullying, sexual harassment and the objectification of women, and asks, “Is this the best a man can get?”

It urges men to be more accountable and to take an active role in effecting change. 

As soon as the Gillette ad went public, social media lit up with messages of both praise and condemnation. The critics felt it sent the wrong message to mankind.

Actor James Woods tweeted that Gillette’s owner Procter & Gamble is “jumping on the ‘men are horrible’ campaign,” and announced he’s shunning its products.

On the TV show, Good Morning Britain, host Piers Morgan longed for the days of the Gillette ad where the masculine man was shown winning races, killing it on Wall Street and hugging women.

“He liked to win things, to strive, to be successful,” lamented Morgan. He then bashed Gillette’s latest commercial, which instead asks men to take a stand against masculine stereotypes deemed harmful to society.

“The implication from that commercial now is that basically, most men are pretty awful people, we’re toxic,” said Morgan. 

Good Morning Britain’s Piers Morgan, here with co-host Susanna Reid, slammed Gillette’s new ad as portraying all men as ‘toxic.’ (Bottled at Source/YouTube)

He also claimed that no one would ever tolerate a commercial condemning women.

“Women aren’t perfect,” he announced.

However, women’s imperfections have continually been the subject of advertising as a way to sell them self-improvement products. 

Men feel targeted, and it is because they’re not used to being targeted,” said Sarah Boesveld, senior writer for Chatelaine magazine.

“But guess what, women have been targeted and taken it for years and years.”

Watch a Gillette commercial:

Rather than offer ways they can help improve mankind — as in the Gillette ad — advertising for women has often focused on their physical flaws.

There are ads for creams to fix wrinkles, concealer for under-eye bags and body shapers to hide the fat.

“Your appearance is not good enough, here’s some product, here’s some things you need to do so you can present yourself in a different light,” said Scott Stratten, author and marketing expert with UnMarketing.

A scene from an ad for an anti-wrinkle serum for women that promises to get rid of ’embarassing signs of aging.’ (Divine Lift/YouTube)

Dove’s Real Beauty campaign, launched in 2004, won kudos for celebrating real women’s bodies. But even that campaign focused on a female flaw: women’s tendency to dislike their physique.

“There’s never been a Dove love-your-body ad campaign for men,” said Stratten.

To be fair, men are sometimes presented as the buffoon in ads, such as the bumbling dad who doesn’t know how to change the toilet paper roll. But these characters are often presented in a lovable, humorous way.

And Statten says when men aren’t the buffoons, they’re often what Gillette used to present them as — masculine superstars.

“It’s the macho man. It’s a man’s man. When you’re a man’s man, you get the ladies, that’s what you’re being told.”

A new message

But now, men are being sent a new message about masculinity and its pitfalls. It has caught some off guard and left them feeling offended. 

Boesveld says their sentiment is misguided because the Gillette ad isn’t trying to paint all men with the same brush.

“It kind of distracts from the actual message of the ad, which is, ‘Hey, let’s just do better on the whole. We’re not saying you are a monster. We’re just saying as a culture, we can do a bit better.'”

Stratten agrees and says, as a man, he doesn’t understand the outrage. 

“[The ad is] saying, ‘This is how the problem was caused, and we need to step up and do better.’

“If anybody has a problem with that, you need to get your head checked.”


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Future of Ottawa: Coffee with Francis Bueckert





Francis Bueckert: When it comes to the current landscape of coffee-roasting companies and independent cafes in Ottawa, I think we are at a really interesting moment in time. There are more local roasters that are doing artisanal small-batch production—with more attention to the quality and origin of the beans.

With larger corporations such as Starbucks closing locations, it has opened a bit of space for local players to grow. We have been lucky to work with many folks in the coffee-roasting community, and we have found that there is a willingness to collaborate among different coffee roasters. For example, when Cloudforest started back in 2014, we were roasting our coffee at Happy Goat and it was the expertise of their head roaster Hans that helped me learn how to roast. Other companies such as Brown Bag Coffee have also lent a hand when we needed extra roasting capacity. There are others, such as Lulo, Mighty Valley Coffee, Bluebarn, The Artery, and Little Victories that are also part of the growing local coffee community. It’s small roasters like these who have shown me what a coffee community can look like, and that we can help to elevate each other, rather than being locked in competition.

If you care to make a prediction… What’s happening to the local café industry in 2021?

We believe that there is hope and that 2021 can be a big pivot year for small roasters and cafes.

This year will not be ideal from a business point of view. However, it could create a shift in people’s attitude toward where they get their coffee. We are holding out hope that people will support the roasters and cafes that are local to help them economically survive what is in all reality a very difficult time.

It all depends on where consumers decide to go this year. People are starting to recognize that supporting large corporations at this moment will be at the cost of the local roasters and cafes. There is the growing realization that a future where there is only Amazon, Walmart, and Starbucks would be pretty bleak. So we have an opportunity this year to support the kind of local businesses that we want to see thrive.

In your wildest dreams, what will the landscape for local coffee roasters and cafés look like in your lifetime?

In my wildest dreams, all of the coffee roasters and cafés would be locally owned and independent. They would all be focused on direct trade and artisanal coffee. Each different coffee roaster and café would know exactly where their coffee came from. Ideally, each company would be a partnership between the farmers who grow the beans and the people here selling them. There would be a focus on how to cooperate and collaborate with the farmers in the countries of origin to share the benefits around. We would all work together and share orders of cups, lids, and other packaging so that we could get better bulk pricing. In this way, we would make our local coffee community so efficient that the large corporate coffee companies wouldn’t even be able to compete.

We would also like to see people use coffee as a way to create social good. For example, we started Cloudforest as a way of helping support farmers in Ecuador who were taking a stand against large mining companies. This remote community stood up to protect their environment, so that they could have clean drinking water and soil for the next generation. They started an organic coffee cooperative to help show that there are other models of development, and we are doing our part year after year to help support their vision. They have a vision of development that does not include mass deforestation and contamination, and organic coffee is a key (among others) to show that another way forward is possible.

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Special events in the Ottawa Valley dominate annual OVTA tourism awards





The Ottawa Valley Tourist Association hopes that its annual tourism awards will provide a little sunshine during what is a dark time for local tourism operators because of the pandemic.

The Ottawa Valley Tourism Awards are presented annually by the Ottawa Valley Tourist Association (OVTA) to individuals, businesses, and events that recognize the importance of working together for the growth of the local tourism industry, as well as offering exceptional visitor experiences.

“After a year that saw a lot of businesses in the hospitality and tourism industry being challenged like never before, the annual Ottawa Valley Tourism Awards represent a bit of light on the horizon” said Chris Hinsperger, co-owner of the Bonnechere Caves.

The Ottawa Valley Tourist Association’s (OVTA) Awards Committee co-chairpersons, Meghan James and Chris Hinsperger, said they were very pleased with the recent nominations received, especially in the Special Events category. Submissions were received for The Farm to Fork Dinner Series at the Whitewater Inn; Light up the Valley; The Eganville Curling Clubs’ Rock the Rings; The Ontario Festival of Small Halls ; The Bonnechere Caves On-line Underground Concert Series; The Opeongo Nordic Ski Clubs’ Ski Loppet; The Tour de Bonnechere — Ghost de Tour 2020; and The Bonnechere Caves Rock ‘n Roll Parking Lot Picnic.

“During a time when communities were challenged, it is nice to see that people still made an effort to get together and celebrate, albeit under certain conditions. It just shows the creativity and resiliency of our tourism Community here in the valley” said Meghan James, director of sales at the Pembroke Best Western.

There are three Award categories: The Marilyn Alexander Tourism Champion Award, The Business of Distinction and The Special Event of the Year.

Hinsperger, is excited about this year’s awards.

“During this pandemic the hospitality and tourism industry was the first to be hit, was the hardest hit and will be the last of our industries to fully recover. As Valley entrepreneurs we owe it to ourselves, to our businesses and to our communities to be an active part of that recovery. Our livelihood and economic recovery depends on our efforts. And we will get back to welcoming people from all over the world to share a little bit of the place we are privileged to call home. This awards process leaves myself and others fully optimistic about our positive outcomes.”

Award winners will be announced at the Ottawa Valley Tourist Association’s virtual annual general meeting on Monday, May 31.

The OVTA is the destination marketing organization for the Upper Ottawa Valley and proudly represents more than 200 tourism businesses, comprised of attractions and outfitters, accommodation, food, beverage and retail establishments, artists and galleries, municipalities, as well as media and industry suppliers. The OVTA is supported by the County of Renfrew, Renfrew County municipalities and the City of Pembroke.

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Future of Ottawa: Farming with Jeremy Colbeck





Jeremy Colbeck: Well first, let’s talk about what we mean by farming. Although farms, and farming as an occupation, are in decline across Canada, they are still a major part of our rural landscape. That’s even more true for a strange city like Ottawa which includes a LOT of rural areas and whose urban boundary takes, what, three hours to cross? About 40 per cent of the rural land in Ottawa is farmland. Most of that farming is corn and soybean cash-crop, as well as some dairy and livestock farming. That’s mostly conventional farming (the kind that is profitable but not exactly where you take your kids on a Saturday).

There are also a lot of agri-tourism businesses in Ottawa, which give you that oh-so-good Saturday spot for family donkey-petting and apple-picking. And it’s totally understandable from a business perspective, but sometimes surprising to find out, that even though they grow some of the Christmas trees they sell, they might also be reselling some that come from much larger farms far away. The farmland around Ottawa is also inflated in price because of its proximity to the city, where it is in demand by would-be hobby farmers—folks who want to do some farming on their property in their spare time but make their money (to subsidize their small-scale farming habit) elsewhere. Unfortunately, many of these properties will have large mansions built on them, which will then make them completely unaffordable for the average farmer

There’s also a segment of small-to-medium-sized Ottawa farms that grow “premium” (artisanal, unique, extra-fresh, ecologically- or organically-grown etc…) products that they sell directly to local eaters via farmers’ markets or other direct marketing channels, including on-farm stores and farm stands. That’s where BeetBox fits in.

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