Advertising acts as a key component in the marketing of a product. The advert can be a print or visual depending on the target audience and budget. Each advert in the media has its way of communicating a message to a target market. At times, the message might harbor stereotypes in it as a way of bringing in humor to it. With time, stereotypes became more popular in advertisements especially those centering on gender. In the article, Having it His Way by Carrie Packwood Freeman and Debra Mersin, masculinity stands out as a stereotype of men. Companies use the vice to target certain kinds of men and make their ads show their superiority nature. In the article, the authors look into the use of meat, body structure, and cars as a way of comparing men and their manly nature. It begs the question of whether advertisements should use stereotypes as a way of selling their products.
The advert chosen for the paper is Nivea’s Active 3 for Men. Nivea has worldwide recognition as a cosmetics company, producing products for both men and women (Newman par 1). Most of its advertisements employ sexism as a way of attracting people towards their product. In the advertisement, a male model is in the shower using the shower gel to shampoo, bath and shave. Nivea’s selling point is shampooing since men tend to use bathing soaps. To sell the idea, Nivea uses a masculine man who seems to enjoy their product (Newman par 3). The stereotype is the body structure as it is a key feature in alpha males. The interpretation is that if an alpha male can use shampoo to bath, then it is acceptable to all other men. Another aspect of using a masculine man is to attract the females to their product and show the new generation of men. Most of the women will buy the products for their partners since they saw its endorsement. In the end, shampooing will be a masculine feature in men simply because an alpha male endorsed the product.
Nivea’s advert was effective as other cosmetics companies got on board the shampooing business such as AXE, which used the slogan How Dirty Boys Get Clean in its print ads (Newman par 5). The market for body soap grew from $480 million to $733 million in a span of five months. Companies released better formulas, scents, and flavors, which would appeal to the alpha male. With the exhaustion of shampooing products, companies looked into other ways of minting the men and found most of them used poufs to bath. Like in the case of shampoos, companies like Axe introduced a black pouf called ‘Detailer’ (Newman par 7). What made it different from the common pouf is a rubber grip suited for washing elbows and feet. Nivea’s ad brought forth a change in men’s cosmetics.
Would the perception be different if the male model had a thin body? What if he had an ugly face? These are some of the masculine features that would change the overall perceptions of men and women. The advert would not be appealing if a lesser version of an alpha male sold the product. As per the essay by Freeman, these stereotypes tend to define how male species should look like for them to stand out. Having a perfect body structure and general appearance seems to be the definition of an alpha male, leaving those that do not meet the description to shy away from the society. Companies might argue out that their main aim is to sell their product regardless of the stereotype involved in their advert. Their aim is to create an image and brand for their product and mint as much as they can from it. Who is to blame for the stereotypes? The advertising agency or the society? The society plays a major role in shaping an industry. The society, in this case, is the women, as they complement the men; the same way men complement women. Women draw out their preferred male as someone who is masculine and good looking, creating the two main criteria when it comes to describing a perfect male. Hence, most advertising agents have to factor in these features when it comes to creating advertisements for their products. However, they overstep the barrier by incorporating sexism in their pieces; a different interpretation of what women describe. By employing sexism, adverts put more emphasis and pressure on the stereotypes.
The article by Freeman provides a similar interpretation of stereotypes in men. It looks into the relation between men, meat, and its relation with adverts. In the adverts discussed, meat acts as a male characteristic that is dominant in alpha males. In one of the adverts, a man buys meat and stands in line with another man who bought organic foods (Freeman and Merskin p 277). The situation makes the second man feel inferior, but all that changes when he sees a picture of a Hummer on a magazine and goes to a dealer to buy it. He recovered his male persona and superiority when he bought the car. Despite the lack of direct relation between meat and cars, advertising agencies combine the two as a way of showing it masculinity. The same applies to Nivea’s advert. There lacks a direct relation between shampoos and body structure though the advertising agencies looked for a way to make them work together. In conclusion, the stereotyping in adverts tends to be a major selling point, and most advertising agencies might continue to use it in their future jobs.
Freeman, Carrie Packwood and Debra Merskin. "Having It His Way: The Construction of Masculinity in Fast Food TV Advertising." Rubin, Lawrence C. Food for Thought: Essays on Eating and Culture. NewYork, NY: Jefferson, 2008. 277-293. Print.
Newman, Andrew Adam. Adding a Masculine Edge to Body Wash. 7 September 2009. Web. 21 January 2016. <http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/08/business/media/08adco.html?_r=0>