If we believed everything we saw in advertisements, nobody would go bald, our clothes would have no stains and we truly could “set it and forget it.”
Television advertisements by their very nature are meant to manipulate, enlighten and entertain. But the slew of advertisements for male spray-on deodorant, while humorous at first, go beyond the call of duty. They paint college-age males as unintelligent and single-minded. As of now, they would be right.
A recent ad for Axe spray-on deodorant features a young man spraying two cans of Axe on himself with an unnecessary level of passion. Meanwhile, hoards of Amazonian women are swarming to be the first one to reach him. Women are literally emerging from the ocean while he stands there smiling like a drunken, smelly buffoon.
These types of ads do not make any grand sociological statement. However, after long running campaigns for Axe were deemed successful, along came copycat campaigns by Tag and, to a lesser extent, Irish Spring.
It seems that any deodorant product automatically resorts to underhandedly promising men lots of scantily clad, irrational women. Judging by my roommate’s
success rate after his daily “Axe attack,” the ads are working, but the product is not.
Not to get on a moral high-horse, but the ads speak volumes about what the companies think of men, and it’s insulting.
Apparently we are all gullible enough to believe that women love Axe so much that they are willing to grind on the pipe where our bath water runs through. Frustratingly enough, Tag wasn’t always a juvenile copycat. Gillette, the company that manufactures Tag, initially tried a more toned-down version that was unsuccessful.
But Gillette learned that adding a few mammary glands to their advertising and mixing them with some comical sexual innuendos will make young men just eat it up.
“You have to convince men it’s OK to use those products,” said gender and American mass media professor Dr. Fabienne Darling-Wolf. “There’s an uneasiness [for men] in using a product typically associated with women.”
She also added that because the ads are only 30-second commercials, they have to be more blatantly stereotypical to get their message across.
Honestly, if the ads work, I can’t blame the companies for running them. It is not the companies that need to change – it’s men. Although some inevitably buy the product because they enjoy the smell, judging by Gillette’s experience, that is not always the case.
While some cynical souls may think all men are just horn dogs who would do anything for a woman’s attention, we’re better than that. Man at his best is independently minded, dignified and honest with himself. By purchasing products such as Axe or Tag, men are simply reinforcing every negative stereotype that has ever been associated with the male gender.
We are shamelessly rolling over at the command of some stodgy old advertising executive who is laughing at our gullibility all the way to the bank.
The success of Axe and Tag speaks volumes. Men, in fact, are gullible and do eat up the advertisements. It’s time true men separate themselves from desperate, adolescent-minded wannabes. A truly independent mind would not buy hordes of flea market quality cologne and spray it on in unnecessary quantities, potentially counteracting its intended purpose.
A real man would buy his deodorant because it works well. A real man would go his own way. And any real woman who is chasing the man would agree.
Sean Blanda can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.