Saturday, February 4, 2012


(OHAI. So, this was supposed to go up almost six months ago, but I couldn't figure out how to make video embedding work. So I left it alone for a while, and then the semester happened. Anywho, pretend you're reading this in the tail end of Fall 2011. I've found that listening to someone yammer about the Mayan Apocalypse helps.)

This is a subject near and dear to my heart. I, as many who know me have likely guessed, am not a large person, and thus not MANLY. I cannot bench-press cars, crush steel chains in my teeth, set off chemical-weapon sensors with my body odor or any other such MANLY things. I love to dance, my taste in movies tends toward the nerdy and in some cases slightly girly (I liked the Princess Diaries, ok?), and I play roleplaying games with other sissy, unMANLY nerds all the time.

For the longest time, I was fairly convinced that no company had any idea how to advertise to a guy like me. Every commercial I saw aimed at my sex was trying to convince me that it would make me irresistible to women. If I didn't know better, I'd think that congress passed a law (As if!) banning products for men that weren't aphrodisiacs for use on their women. (Because the women in these commercials are "their women." They belong to the men in these commercials by dint of their owning the product being advertised.) This seems disingenuous to me. Women (and men, for that matter) aren't going to suddenly swarm you and give you lots of sex just because you used Axe. (Just the opposite, I've found.) I was lost, adrift, un-advertised-to. Then came The Old Spice Guy:

THAT is how you advertise to men. He's so masculine it's almost parodic, but the video is so ridiculous that you know OSG's in on the joke. He's also (importantly) classy, and shows he knows how to treat a woman right. The message this commercial sends is that this is a product used by men of class, and not just MEN. For a while, it seemed as if advertising was taking a turn for the better (or at least less annoying) even if ad companies took the wrong message from the OSG campaign's success. Namely, that clever, handsome guys speaking directly at the screen make all ads better. (There were HOTEL COMMERCIALS using this gimmick for a while!) Hell, even the Old Spice ads with Terry Crews were funny in a bizarre, slightly disturbing way. And then this happened:

Some numbskull ad agent saw how ridiculous manliness was selling a product aimed at dudes, and decided to aim a FRIGGING DIET SODA ad at what he thought was that audience. However, there's a very important difference between the guys that buy Old Spice to smell nice and please their ladyfriends (Note, I'm not getting paid to endorse OS, so I won't endorse them. I will, however, say that I have had THREE girlfriends since I started using it. Take that for what you will.) and the lunkheads who go along with this soda commercial: OSG is aimed squarely at classy dudes who want to smell nice for themselves and/or their S.O. This Dr Pepper commercial is aimed at guys who apparently still think girls have cooties. This particular ad misses the point of Old Spice's ad campaign completely by being so thickheadedly MANLY that it borders on offensive, and the others in that series aren't much better.

Come on, advertisers. If you want me to buy your product, try not to make me think you see me as a testosterone-poisoned Neanderthal. Flattery breeds loyalty. This primitive caveman view of masculinity is NOT FLATTERING.

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