Man Enough? A Look At Male Oriented Advertisising

Rich Ceccoli Ceccoli 1
Dr. Sterling
Effective Writing
November 10, 2000
Man Enough?
Advertising plays an essential role in our society today.
On some levels, it shapes us into the people we are by implanting in
our minds certain ideas of what we should own. Advertising agencies
are out to strike a nerve or hotspot in our consumer driven minds
that will lead us to buy whatever product they may be selling. In
recent times we can see a rather disturbing and not so subtle
advertising strategy developing. Agencies are associating their
products with masculine homilies such as sex appeal and the male
competitive drive. The new trend among ads and commercials is to
question the consumer’s masculinity and align their product with
masculinity.

Men are very concerned with their sex appeal and how women view
them. Many new ads are sending the message that their product
carries with it the essence of sexiness. A perfect example of this
is a “KOOL” cigarette ad in Playboy magazine. The ad depicts an
overly crowded bar packed with young attractive people. In the back
of the room there is a sign that says “BE KOOL,” which jumps right
out due to its green lighting. Everyone in the bar is preoccupied
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with conversations except one girl. She is a very beautiful twenty-
something brunette with a very seductive and hypnotic look on her
face. She is locked in a dead stare with a man’s hand holding a KOOL
cigarette. The only part of the man showing is his hand and forearm
and it is clearly apparent that this girl is staring at it. The add
is basically saying that this girl singled this guy out of a packed
crowd just because he smokes KOOLs. The fact that she is staring at
his hand and not him is very interesting. The girl in the ad cares
nothing about the man holding the cigarette or any other men
surrounding her. She is simply entranced by the cigarette itself.
The ad agency is directly aligning its product with sex appeal. Not
only does this ad say “Smoking KOOL makes you look sexy,” this ad
says “KOOL’s ARE sexy.”
Another ad that takes the exact same approach is a recent
Levi’s television commercial. The commercial is about 30-45 seconds
long and it features numerous women that live in the same apartment
building. Each scene displays a different woman doing something
drastically destructive to their apartment. One woman even cuts into
her wall with a chain saw. Each time one of the women destroy
something the commercial cuts to the repairman (landlord,
superintendent) who receives a beep on his pager. Throughout the
commercial, one accident after another, this repairman goes to the
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women’s rooms to make repairs. Surprisingly enough, each room that
he visits is inhabited by an unusually attractive young female.
Every time the repairman enters or leaves a room to respond to a
call the woman will look glare at his jeans. The ad ends with this
as he receives another page and says, “God, this place is falling
apart.” This ad is absolutely ridiculous. The advertising agency is
actually telling you that these jeans are so sexy that women will
destroy their personal property just to look at them for a short
while. To be adored and desired by women is something that every man
dreams about. The man in the ad is depicted as the most desired man
on the planet and if the ad agencies can make someone feel that
these jeans will work the same wonders for them, well then they will
definitely have another customer.

The masculine homily of keeping up with the competition seems
to be a highly effective advertising method. A shining example of
this can be seen in a very recent commercial for the new online
brokerage firm “Ameritrade.” This ad is about 45sc-Min long and it
displays a cocky young stockbroker making his way through an
airport. He is talking on his cell phone and from his conversations
and the way he talks down to people the viewer assumes that he is
very well to do and knowledgeable in his field. He takes a seat next
to an ordinary looking gentleman. They begin discussing stocks and
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the second man dazzles this cocky young broker with his ability to
watch the market as it moves and his easy access and fair price for
trading. The cocky young broker has a very defeated look on his face
and is almost reluctant to hear the explanation of Ameritrade. It

can be ascertained that this young broker was outright angry and
embarrassed that he was educated on what he thought to be his
field of expertise. The ad is saying that Ameritrade can give even
the average person an easy and effective way to maneuver around the
market, and that even the likes of an experienced broker can be lost
without it.

Another commercial that appeals to the masculine need for
competition is a recent milk commercial. The commercial is aimed to
reinforce the fact that milk has high nutritional value and
strengthens bones and muscles. Strength and the ability to overpower
ones fellow man has always been synonymous with masculinity. The
commercial takes place in a diner where three very docile looking
old men drinking milk with their breakfast. Sitting a few booths
away from them are three extremely large and menacing looking men.
The old men begin catapulting little chunks of food at them with
their spoons. All of the men stand up and approach each other until
they finally meet in the middle of the aisle. A short standoff
ensues and one of the burly men looks at the old man and says
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“What?,” as if to say “what are you going to do old man?.” A second
later the old men head butt the three large men and render them
unconscious. The idea this commercial conveys is that milk will
increase your chances of victory in a fight despite what the odds
may be. It is basically saying that with strength and a little
testosterone driven fortitude a man can overcome anything.
A man’s insecurities over his masculinity can compel him to do
anything he can to prove himself. Advertising agencies use masculine
homilies to lead us to believe that their products are manly
products and in buying their products we can prove ourselves as men.
It’s a little depressing to think that we have come to a point in
marketing where our possessions define the people we are.
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