Boston-based shaving giant Gillette is being called on by internet activists to take its name off the New England Patriots’ Foxboro stadium after team owner Robert Kraft was charged in a case linked to alleged human trafficking.
A web petition on Care2.com had garnered more than 13,000 signatures by Tuesday, demanding that Procter & Gamble — Gillette’s parent company — cut ties with the Patriots. An organizer of the petition drive noted the company’s recent venture into lecturing men about morality.
“We’re asking Gillette to stop sponsoring Gillette Stadium, the home stadium for the New England Patriots — owned by Robert Kraft, who was just arrested during a human trafficking sting operation,” the petition reads.
Kraft pleaded not guilty last month to soliciting prostitution charges in Jupiter, Fla., in connection with a sting targeting massage parlors staffed with Chinese women that authorities say were virtual sex slaves. In January, Gillette launched its controversial “Is This The Best A Man Can Get?” ad campaign that cited the #MeToo movement and took aim at so-called toxic masculinity, suggesting boys need to be taught not to be abusive.
Care2’s Recca Gerber said, “It’s nice to see a brand use their influence for good, but now it’s time to see if they will actually back up their words with action.”
“Robert Kraft believed his power would protect him from being held accountable for exploiting vulnerable women forced into sex slavery. This is exactly the kind of behavior Gillette said it will stand against,” Gerber said in a statement to the Herald. She said approximately 200 of the 13,000 signatories are from Massachusetts.
“The sting operation exposed that the workers, mostly from China, were lured to America with the promise of regular massage therapy work. However, when they got here, they were forced into performing sex work with few breaks, no days off, and in unhygienic conditions. Essentially, they were forced into sex slavery,” the petition continues.
Care2 bills itself as a network of campaigners to “fuel the progressive movement” on causes they care about. Other notable campaigns on the website include “Impeach Trump,” “Ban Plastic Beads At Mardi Gras” and “Tell Congress We Need A Strong Green New Deal.”
A spokeswoman for Gillette did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Gillette said on its website when the campaign began in January that it is “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.”
Gary Coombe, president of P&G Global Grooming, said at the time, “By holding each other accountable, eliminating excuses for bad behavior and supporting a new generation working toward their personal ‘best,’ we can help create positive change that will matter for years to come.”
The Kraft Group, which owns 66,000-seat Gillette Stadium, signed an extension with P&G in 2010 for naming and sponsorship rights to the stadium through 2031.
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