Shaving supply giant Gillette has sparked controversy with a new ad that challenges men to "shave their toxic masculinity".

The ad, created by the brand's ad agency Grey and called "We Believe", responds to the #MeToo movement and urges men to hold themselves to a higher standard.

The video, which runs for just under two minutes, features a flurry of news clips about the women's rights movement and bullying.

The commercial depicts various scenes of men bullying and catcalling women, and fights breaking out between boys.

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"Is this the best a man can get, is it?" the ad's narrator asks — a play on the shaving company's famous tagline, "the best a man can get".

The video then shows men berating their friends for harassing women, a father breaking up the fight, and a mother cradling a boy who is being bullied through text messages.

The narrator says men can no longer "hide" from issues like bullying and sexual harassment.

"We can't hide from it. It has been going on far too long. We can't laugh it off, making the same old excuses."

The ad has sparked a controversial response online. Many have praised it for bringing issues of bullying and harassment against women to the forefront:

But others accused the company of shaming men and pushing a "war" on masculinity:

"It's time we acknowledge that brands, like ours, play a role in influencing culture," Gillette said in a statement.

"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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"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.

"As part of The Best Men Can Be campaign, Gillette is committing to donate $1 million per year for the next three years to non-profit organisations executing programs in the United States designed to inspire, educate and help men of all ages achieve their personal 'best' and become role models for the next generation."

Gillette brand director for North America Pankaj Bhalla defended the ad in a statement emailed to The Wall Street Journal.

"This is an important conversation happening, and as a company that encourages men to be their best, we feel compelled to both address it and take action of our own," Mr Bhalla said.

"We are taking a realistic look at what's happening today, and aiming to inspire change by acknowledging that the old saying 'Boys Will Be Boys' is not an excuse.

"We recognise it's sparking a lot of passionate dialogue — at the same time, it's getting people to stop and think about what it means to be our best selves, which is the point of the spot."

Nike sparked a similar controversy last year after featuring controversial kneeling quarterback Colin Kaepernick in its 30th anniversary campaign.

It retweeted a photo of the former San Francisco 49ers player with the tagline: "Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything."

Thousands tweeting the hashtag #BoycottNike threatened to destroy their clothing while some shared footage of trainers being set on fire.