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


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.

Word Count: 1101

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