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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 23 February 2019

Gillette's '#MeToo advert' faces huge online backlash among men's rights activists

Some say the razor brand should 'stay out of politics' while others think the campaign is 'brave' and 'timely'

Gillette's new 'The Best Men Can Be' campaign deals with toxic masculinity amid the #MeToo movement. Gillette / YouTube
Gillette's new 'The Best Men Can Be' campaign deals with toxic masculinity amid the #MeToo movement. Gillette / YouTube

‘The best a man can get’ has been Gillette’s tagline for more than 30 years, and it’s around this phrase that the razor company has created a new advertising campaign that plays on the #MeToo movement and toxic masculinity.

In a video lasting almost two minutes, Gillette asks its customers “is this the best men can get?”, set to a backdrop of sequences showing bullying, workplace harassment, catcalling and recent news reports surrounding the movement.

Alongside the campaign comes a pledge from Gillette to donate $1 million (Dh3.7 million) a year for three years to charities that help to educate men and create role models for the next generation.

“Turn on the news today and it’s easy to believe that men are not at their best,” Gillette says of its recognisable tagline. “Many find themselves at a crossroads, caught between the past and a new era of masculinity. While it is clear that changes are needed, where and how we can start to effect that change is less obvious for many. And when the changes needed seem so monumental, it can feel daunting to begin. So, let’s do it together.”

Online backlash

But since the commercial was released on Sunday (January 13) evening, it has received a huge backlash from thousands of men across the world. Many claim the advert is "virtue signalling", and accuse the company of exploiting the movement for its own gain, while others call for Gillette to “stay out of politics”.

Among those calling out the brand was outspoken British journalist Piers Morgan. “I've used @Gillette razors my entire adult life but this absurd virtue-signalling PC guff may drive me away to a company less eager to fuel the current pathetic global assault on masculinity,” he said in a tweet. “Let boys be damn boys. Let men be damn men.”

American actor James Woods was also quick to call Gillette out on the advert. “So nice to see @Gillette jumping on the 'men are horrible' campaign permeating mainstream media and Hollywood entertainment. I for one will never use your product again,” he wrote.

'Brave' and 'timely'

The advert was directed by Kim Gehrig from UK-based agency Somesuch. Gehrig was also behind the successful ‘This Girl Can’ campaign run by Sport England. So far the video has had more than 228,000 dislikes on YouTube compared with just 27,000 likes.

However, many have been quick to praise the advert, calling it “brave” and “timely”.

'THIS is how you use your brand. THIS is how you engage with your audience," one Twitter user wrote. "Other companies take notes."

“Unexpectedly powerful and moving video from @Gillette on toxic masculinity. Well done,” wrote another, while Mika McKinnon – a field geophysicist – chipped in: “Once again, I'm very much okay with this shift in cultural standards. 'Be a good human' is getting ever-more commercially viable. I'm down with a future where it's cool to be protective and proactive at making the world better.”

Gillette adds: "It’s time we acknowledge that brands, like ours, play a role in influencing culture. And as a company that encourages men to be their best, we have a responsibility to make sure we are promoting positive, attainable, inclusive and healthy versions of what it means to be a man."

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Read more:

Why it’s time for the pop world to face the #MeToo music

Documentary accusing Michael Jackson of sexual abuse to premiere at Sundance

Judge dismisses Ashley Judd's harassment claim against Harvey Weinstein

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Updated: January 15, 2019 03:08 PM

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