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Gillette faces backlash and boycott over '#MeToo advert'

Gillette advert Image copyright Gillette

A Gillette advert which references bullying, the #MeToo movement and toxic masculinity has split opinion online.

The razor company's short film, called Believe, plays on their famous slogan "The best a man can get", replacing it with "The best men can be".

The company says it wants men to hold each other "accountable".

Some have praised the message of the advert, which aims to update the company's 30-year-old tagline, but others say Gillette is "dead" to them.

The ad has been watched more than 2 million times on YouTube in 48 hours.

It currently has 23,000 likes and 214,000 dislikes, at time of writing - and that's increasing all the time.

Image copyright Gillette
Image caption People such as Piers Morgan have said they will boycott Gillette because of the message of the new advert

In it, the company asks "Is this the best a man can get?" before showing images of bullying, sexual harassment, sexist behaviour and aggressive male behaviour.

It then shows examples of more positive behaviour - such as stepping into prevent these behaviours when they happen in public.

Image copyright Gillette
Image caption In the advert, one man stops his friend from harassing a woman in the street

Comments on the video are largely negative, with viewers saying they will never buy Gillette products again or that the advert was "feminist propaganda".

"In less than two minutes you managed to alienate your biggest sales group for your products. Well done," wrote one angry viewer.

Twitter users are also sharing their disappointment with Gillette's new campaign.

There have also been calls for Gillette, which is owned by Procter & Gamble, to post an apology video.

But the brand believes the new advert aligns with its slogan and says it believes in "the best in men."

"By holding each other accountable, eliminating excuses for bad behaviour, and supporting a new generation working toward their personal 'best,' we can help create positive change that will matter for years to come," says its president, Gary Coombe.

The advert was directed by Kim Gehrig from the UK-based production company Somesuch, who also directed the 2015 campaign for Sport England, This Girl Can.

Image copyright Gillette
Image caption The advert encourages men to act with more respect and to set a positive example to young boys

Gillette has partnered with the Building A Better Man project, which seeks to reduce violent behaviour in men, and The Boys and Girls Club of America, which helps young men develop better social and communication skills. It's also donating $1m (around £778,000) a year for the next three years to US charities aimed at supporting men.

'They must have known there would be backlash'

But while the response to the ad has been largely negative, as the old saying goes, there's no such thing as bad publicity.

"Their next steps are very important but it shouldn't necessarily be widespread panic yet," Rob Saunders, an account manager at UK advertising company the Media Agency Group, tells Radio 1 Newsbeat.

"Their ad is getting them good publicity and good numbers and causing a debate - which they must have known when they put out this ad.

Rob says Gillette will have anticipated a negative reaction to the advert from some people.

"This ad would have been approved by many people high up at Gillette," he adds.

"So they must have known that there may have been a backlash."

Rob believes the strong reaction is because the ad is such a shift from how Gillette was previously promoted and that has surprised people.

"It's such a change in stance for Gillette and it's happening overnight, particularly with the social commentary and that's why it's done such huge numbers."

'This conversation needs to happen'

But alongside the negative reaction to the brand's new message, there has also been widespread praise for its attempt to join the debate on what it means to be a modern man.

"We knew that joining the dialogue on 'Modern Manhood' would mean changing how we think about and portray men at every turn," adds Gary Coombe.

"Effective immediately, Gillette will review all public-facing content against a set of defined standards meant to ensure we fully reflect the ideals of Respect, Accountability and Role Modelling in the ads we run, the images we publish to social media, the words we choose, and more.

"For us, the decision to publicly assert our beliefs while celebrating men who are doing things right was an easy choice that makes a difference."

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