Social Marketing Example #9: Boys Don’t Cry, White Ribbon PSA

Lacey Davidson 09/11/19 - 9:08 am

Boys are strong and brave and tough, and boys don’t cry. Or do they?

In this 2019 PSA, White Ribbon is calling attention to toxic masculinity. Society has created the expectation that all men portray what are considered to be “masculine” traits. This expectation has hurt not just men, but society as a whole, causing men to go to extreme measures to prove their masculinity.

Schools implement dress codes to “protect” young girls and justify it with statements like “boys will be boys”. And when boys fight or are aggressive and mean, it’s just “boys being boys”.

Boys will be the boys we teach them to be.

Why we love it:

Instead of simply saying we need to eliminate toxic masculinity, White Ribbon identifies and exposes the root of the problem. We watch one boy as he grows from a baby into a young adult. And though the boy grows up throughout the video, the narrator does not.

What does this prove?

The predators we see in society were likely not created overnight.

The things people are exposed to in childhood stay with them throughout life. When we teach boys that they can’t cry and they must be tough and brave and strong to fit into society, we cause young boys to build a hard exterior. White Ribbon wants to call attention to the behavior that causes boys to feel they must prove their superiority.

It’s time we start teaching them it’s okay to feel vulnerable. Boys can be shy and intelligent and loving, and boys can cry.

Many campaigns have pointed out the issues of toxic masculinity and gendered violence, but few have offered a solution. White Ribbon succeeds in encouraging us to teach boys to be better boys.

This is post #9 in our blog series, 17 wow-worthy social marketing campaigns.

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