Razor company Gillette has shaved off a section of its customer base after wading into the “me too” debate in a controversial advertisement.
The clip plays on its slogan “the best a man can get” to instead call for its customers to be “the best men can be”.
It quickly went viral after going online on Monday (AEDT), with some claiming it demonises men and big-name commentators calling for a boycott.
The advertisement opens with examples of sexism in the workplace, violence, bullying and sexual harassment that’s shrugged off with the idiom “boys will be boys”.
“Is this the best a man can get?” the voiceover asks. “Is it?”
It cuts to the aftermath of bombshell allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein that opened the floodgates to the me too movement.
“There is no going back. Because we, we believe in the best in men,” the ad says.
The clip was watched 7.5 million times on YouTube within just two days, but more than 485,000 responded using the dislike button by Wednesday afternoon.
News Corp columnist Miranda Devine and feminist writer Clementine Ford went head to head on Nine Network’s Today show on Wednesday morning.
Ms Devine claimed the premise of the advertisement was that “men and boys are intrinsically bad and brutish people”.
“It really is a strange way of trying to sell razors by insulting your core demographic,” she told the program.
“If you’re a little boy growing up in this soup of anti-male feeling that you see in popular culture, there is an entire movement going on across the world to demonise maleness and masculinity.
“What are little boys meant to think, if they just think that something that was innate to them that they were born with that they can’t help to change, is somehow diseased, that their very fact of being a boy or a man is evil or wrong. It’s just setting them up for failure and sadness.”
Ms Ford rejected the advertisement demonised men.
“They literally say they believe in the best of men.”
She said it modelled “good bystander behaviour from other men who stand in” and was “a celebration and a championing of good male behaviour”.
Ms Ford wasn’t alone, with thousands of people on social media embracing the video or laughing off the suggestion it suggested all men were bad.
Lord of the Rings actor Elijah Wood said the ad – filmed by Australian director Kim Gehrig – was “beautiful”.
— Elijah Wood (@elijahwood) January 16, 2019
Others went so far as to throw their razors in the rubbish bin or call for a boycott.
“I’ve used Gillette razors my entire adult life but this absurd virtue-signalling PC [politically correct] guff may drive me away to a company less eager to fuel the current pathetic global assault on masculinity,” UK breakfast TV host Piers Morgan wrote on Twitter.
“Let boys be damn boys. Let men be damn men.”
Actor James Wood called for shareholders to sell Procter and Gamble (P&G) stocks as owner of Gillette.
“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 on Twitter.
— warroom (@warroom) January 15, 2019
Gillette said it was time to acknowledge its own power in influencing culture, and pledged to challenge the way men are represented in media.
“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,” the company said in a statement.
“Our tagline needs to continue to inspire us all to be better every day, and to help create a new standard for boys to admire and for men to achieve … Because the boys of today are the men of tomorrow.”
Gillette said it would donate $US3 million over three years to non-profit organisations in the United States that support boys and men.
— Drew Van Roekel (@DrewVanRoekel1) January 16, 2019
“Get woke, go broke.” @Gillette might be next to suffer that fate, after video by female director Kim Gehrig, depicting oafish male behavior and lecturing men on toxic masculinity. Time to sell my @ProcterGamble stock? Why don't they sell soap-not their soap box?
— Gov. Mike Huckabee (@GovMikeHuckabee) January 15, 2019