Getting in a Manly Lather

Well hello ladies, it’s time to say goodbye to the man your man could smell like.

If you have no idea what I’m on about, then you’ll need to watch this video RIGHT NOW… but if you do have an inkling then you’ll be sad to learn that the Old Spice Man announced on Twitter on Thursday that he will no longer be posting witty video responses to his online fans.

The award winning Old Spice Man-Your-Man-Could-Smell-Like advert, a creation of Wieden & Kennedy Portland, quickly spread like viral wildfire across the internet earlier this year (it first aired in the USA in February’s coveted Superbowl Sunday slot) and has been followed up with the (possibly even more brilliant?) recent ‘Questions‘ instalment. The entire campaign has been a hit with meme geeks, who have appreciated Old Spice Man’s foray into the boundless possibilities of social media; he’s been creating a series of bespoke videos addressing followers on Twitter, facebook et al and posting them on YouTube (Old Spice Man even did a marriage proposal for one fan!).

Interestingly, though, Old Spice Man has found a rather enamoured feminist following too; Writers at Bust Magazine attempted to dissect the gender stereotypes at play in both the first and second adverts, before succumbing to the fact that – satire or stereotype – these ads are just damn funny.

Still, I think these ads are indeed worthy of a bit of feminist attention since they do seem to play with that uber-manly way men have their soapy stuff marketed to them. Take this ‘bespoke’ Old Spice vid, for example…

…which pokes fun at the way most men’s cosmetics ads feel the need to beef-up the ‘feminine’ notion of washing. Hmm, being clean and smelling nice… how awfully girly!

This very weird ‘I’m washing myself, but I’m still a manly man, grrr! ‘ marketing message has been tackled beautifully by Allie at Hyperbole And A Half via the medium of MS Paint. Allie has created her vision of a hyped up ‘Lynx Effect’ future… and it is full of lethal exfoliators, testosterone-laden scents and razors within razors (now with more razors!) – See her hilarious blog post here.

However, whilst Allie has done an amazing job at satirising the screaming world of hyper-masculine men’s cosmetics marketing, it seems the whole thing has come full circle and the old Old Spice Man – a smooth talking, cake baking, diamond proffering kinda guy, is being over-taken by a new Old Spice Man – who is, quite frankly, an uncouth, building-kicking hulk.

For me, this new addition to the Old Spice family is a hopeful sign that men are now so aware (and fed up) of the ludicrous ways they’ve been marketed to in the past that, when the testosterone dial is turned up to 11, they can see the funny side… Either that, or explosions and building kicking are just plain awesome. Whatever – welcome, if you please, the new Old Spice Man!

By: Sarah Barnes, 17.07.2010 | Comments (0)
Tagged: , ,

Who’s The Man?

If ever you needed proof that language is a hugely powerful tool in defining gender, you would only have to look as far as the title of Feministing founder Jessica Valenti’s book, He’s A Stud, She’s A Slut. But, whilst you may think men get off easily by being labelled Studs, Big Shots and Supermen, such grammatical expectations of men can weigh just as heavily as any negative names women are burdened with.

Don’t believe me? Then take a trip along to Who’s The Man, an installation at London’s Future Gallery of more than a 1000 hand painted enamel panels, each depicting a word or a phrase used to describe a ‘man’. Opening today, the exhibition of painstakingly produced typography is the work of Rudy de Belgeonne – who hopes the hundreds of screaming painted names will ’help the bewildered male plot his way through the gender landscape…’

And isn’t that all any of us are trying to do? Regardless of what gender we are, regardless of whether we’ve been described as a slut, a beast, a queer or a geezer, we are all surrounded by language that solidifies society’s expectations of us. We can all relate to those pressures; the put-downs and the put-upons, the stereotypes and the requests to conform to certain genders. That’s what makes Who’s The Man an exhibition that speaks to everyone… even if, quite simply, it just calls them names!

Who’s The Man runs until the 8th of June at The Future Gallery.

By: Sarah Barnes, 03.06.2010 | Comments (0)
Tagged: , , , , ,

‘My Strength’ Posters

My Strength

I came across the My Strength website via the comments on this piece on the F Word. My Strength is a Californian initiative (though it has now spread further), aimed at men, that strives to promote youth empowerment, gender equality and healthy relationships.

I found the My Strength campaign posters (available on the website) to be really refreshing pieces of media. Not only are the sentiments quite unique (in terms of how the media usually responds to and reports rape and sexual violence) but I also think the images are a bit special too. It’s not often that we see a male/female couple where the male meets our eye and the female gazes into the distance (isn’t it usually the other way round?) AND it’s not often that we see a male/male couple full stop (especially one that acknowledges the sexual relationship between the two).

Aaah it’s like an invigorating breath of fresh air! Why can’t we see more campaigns like this?

My Strength

By: Sarah Barnes, 05.12.2009 | Comments (0)
Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , ,