The Brave New World Of Manvertising: Body Wash Wars


It started quietly, with the appearance of black loofahs in the body wash aisle. Marketing body wash to men has proved to be quite lucrative, unleasing a wave of new ads determined to convince men their body wash is magic.

The Old Spice commercial shown above manages to be both mocking and ridiculous, parodying the idea of a manly sex symbol while pretending to speak to female viewers. Interestingly, the commercial includes most of the hallmarks of advertising for body products aimed at men: contempt at anything female (“smelling like a lady,”), a desirable and attractive man at the center of the ad, and the promise of women.

This Axe commercial follows the same logic. In this Snow White gone wrong fantasy, a guy using a pink bar of soap suddenly invites a team of helpful forest animals who come bearing lipstick and a pink panty set.

Nothing says masculine like turning the forest animals into bikini-clad babes, ready to soap you.

Many of these ads appear to need to reaffirm the “manliness” of involved with being clean – indeed, with Dove’s magnum opus to manhood (which also aired during the Super Bowl), there is an entire song dedicated to the average man. While lacking in the misogyny of its counterparts, it still puts the focus squarely on celebrating masculinity.

For comparison, please note how ads aimed at women tend to focus on the “party in a shower” aspect of the product:

Interestingly, Nivea for Men also takes the tongue in cheek approach – but does so by lampooning the typical conventions of ads aimed at men:

Amusing little commercial. However, we’ll have to deduct a point since that guy is not on a horse.

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