Guyside. As advertised on TV: selling men short

Posted by on Sep 23, 2013 in men, Uncategorized | 3 comments

It’s perhaps the easiest thing in the world to criticize TV advertising. Everybody sees an ad and find it puerile, stupid, offensive, or something. And there’s no doubt that women have been very poorly treated by all sorts of ads in the past and now, too. Objectified, used purely for their sexuality, portrayed as stupid — there’s a legendary description of advertising as “Two Cs in a K.” The K stands for kitchen; I’ll let you figure out what the C stands for.

But it ain’t so great for men either, out there. My personal favorite ads? Just for Men. Oh, Just For Men, how you sell men short. I’m divided over which of their campaigns is more patronizing and offensive: the one with two adorable daughters telling their dad “it’s time”:

The inexplicable “Beard Baby” ad:

Or the one with three retired athletes humiliating themselves in front of bimbos:

It’s not just hair commercials for older dudes. It’s razor commercials, and even commercials aimed at younger guys (AXE, anyone?). I wouldn’t even call it subliminal — it’s quite clear that for advertising aimed at men, the message is: “Use our product, get laid.” That makes very good sense… if you’re advertising an erectile dysfunction drug.

What bugs me about the advertising aimed at me is that the only reason for exercise, for grooming, or other products or services aimed at men, is heterosexual sex. Don’t get me wrong — I’m in pro-heterosexual sex. I just think (a) there’s more to the world than just a man and a woman having sex; and (b) there are more motivating factors in the world than that.

As a man, my frustration with ads targetting me makes me think about the ads targetting other demographic segments. I don’t doubt that other groups are as poorly served by TV ads aimed at them as men are by ads for “men’s products.” And so it’s no wonder that there’s so much kibitzing, good-natured and otherwise, about the poor job these ads do to communicate their messages.

Think of the difference between this razor commercial:

And this one:

To me, the difference is one of tone. One is cynical, relying on the brain-penis connection. The other is smart and self-referential, acknowledging that this really is just body wash, after all.

The success of the Old Spice ad campaign was phenomenal. But we need to continue to teach advertisers that men are more than leering adolescents, and that when you make ads like these, you sell men — and women — short.

3 Comments

  1. 9-25-2013

    Amen! Sitcom tv shows aren’t doing men any favors either. Men are much more than the caricatures that media portrays them.

  2. 10-28-2013

    We all suffer when stereotypes become prevalent, and you’re absolutely right, Bonny. There are plenty of very negative stereotypes of men, as well as women (and children too).

    What I’d like us all as consumers to do is to think about what these portrayals tell us about the person creating them.

    • 2-5-2014

      I agree with you, Bonny! Media now is downgrading the real identity of men. I hope our media team would be able to see the negative things this ad is bringing to the minds of the viewers. I think, the one responsible for showing this ads should filter so that everything that’s shown are all informative and beneficial. =)

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