The Harvey Weinstein rape trial has created a major spike in the #MeToo hashtag, already closely associated with the disgraced movie mogul, but has also created some legal issues for those seeking to cash in on the hashtag.
“It speaks to the staying power and longevity of #MeToo,” said Kellan Terry of research firm Brandwatch who report that the hastag has been seen 42 billion times across social media and news sites.
While Weinstein busily defends himself from sexually assaulting two women, the hastag’s commercial use has continued to develop.
Although the activist Tarana Burke began using the phrase “Me Too” online in 2006 with the intention of raising awareness about sexual assault, the hashtag went viral after the Weinstein allegations were first reported in October 2017 when actress Alyssa Milano wrote on Twitter on Oct. 15, 2017: “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet.”
The virality of the hashtag then exploded, but it has been the commercial use of the tag that continues to explode.
Procter & Gamble Gillette male products launched #TheBestMenCanBe ad a year ago that combined mentions of #MeToo with an anti-bullying message and images of well-groomed men.
But there have been plenty of others, including a winemaker, cosmetics company and law firm among the businesses that have applied for a #MeToo trademark.
The Virginia law firm ExcellLaw, which regards itself as a ‘reformist’ law firm, has applied to trademark the term.
Some businesses were using the phrase prior to Milano’s viral tweet but it has only increased with the continued use of the hashtag.
Me Too Shoes was founded in 1996. President Adam Tucker said customers have urged the company to keep its name, and after #MeToo took off, it began donating a portion of sales to an anti-violence charity.
Derek Nelson, 22, of New York, was developing his MeToo social networking app for college students when the Weinstein allegations gave the name new meaning.
He said it has not exactly been a boon. Some students seem surprised to learn of a movement by the same name and will ask if he’s heard of it.
“I’m like, ‘Where have you been?’” said Nelson.
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