Gillette ad causes uproar with men’s rights activists

Backlash includes call for boycott, complaining the We Believe commercial is ‘insulting’ and ‘emasculates men’

Shaving brand Gillette have released a new commercial in response to the Me Too campaign. Some have criticised the ad as "insulting" and "emasculating". Video: Gillette

 

Gillette is under fire from men’s rights activists and rightwing publications for a new advertisement that engages with the #MeToo movement and plays on its 30-year tagline “The Best A Man Can Get”, asking instead: “Is this the best a man can get?”

The advertisement features news clips of reporting on the #MeToo movement, as well as images showing sexism in films, in boardrooms, and of violence between boys, with a voice over saying: “Bullying, the MeToo movement against sexual harassment, toxic masculinity, is this the best a man can get?”

The film has generated heated debate and plenty of criticism.

Far-right magazine The New American attacked the advertisement’s message, saying it “reflects many false suppositions”, adding that: “Men are the wilder sex, which accounts for their dangerousness – but also their dynamism.”

Among the objections were that the video implied most men were sexual harassers or violent thugs; TV presenter Piers Morgan said that it was “PC guff”  and “virtue-signalling” by a company that doesn’t care about the issue, while others said the ad was emasculating.

The advertisement, which runs for nearly two minutes, shows men intervening to stop fights between boys and calling other men out when they say sexually inappropriate things to women in the streets. “We believe in the best in men: To say the right thing, to act the right way. Some already are in ways big and small. But some is not enough. Because the boys watching today will be the men of tomorrow,” the voiceover says.

Released on Sunday, the film’s YouTube page has had over 220,000 dislikes and 25,000 likes with many commenters saying they will never buy a Gillette razor again. The ad was directed by Kim Gehrig at the UK-based production agency, Somesuch. Gehrig was behind the 2015 This Girl Can advertising campaign for Sport England and “Viva La Vulva”, an advertisement for Swedish feminine hygiene brand Libresse.

Some people took issue with the advertisement because it was directed by a woman. The Conservative Canadian political commentator Ezra Levant wrote: “A shaving ad written by pink-haired feminist scolds is about as effective as a tampon ad written by middle aged men … Count this 30-year customer out.”

The campaign follows other campaigns by major international brands that have dealt with social and political issues. In 2018, Nike ran a campaign featuring NFL star Colin Kaepernick, who drew criticism from Donald Trump for kneeling during the national anthem to protest against racism.

Gillette, which is owned by Procter & Gamble, said the advertisement was part of a broader initiative for the company to promote “positive, attainable, inclusive and healthy versions of what it means to be a man”.

Gillette wrote on its website: “From today on, we pledge to actively challenge the stereotypes and expectations of what it means to be a man everywhere you see Gillette. In the ads we run, the images we publish to social media, the words we choose, and so much more.”

Gillette has also promised to donated $1 million per year for three years to non-profit organisations with programs “designed to inspire, educate and help men of all ages achieve their personal “best” and become role models for the next generation”. – Guardian

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