Many print advertisements which promote cigarettes, alcohol, sport clothes, and perfume for males present strong men who embody the concept of masculinity. In spite of the fact it is popular today to focus on handsome and rather feminine men in advertisements, the idea of masculinity is widely supported in the media and advertising.
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In his work, Michael Kimmel focuses on the key claim that the men’s life is regulated by a specific code of masculinity the basic norms of which are to never demonstrate emotions and weakness (Kimmel). This idea is reflected in the Stetson, Djarum Super, and Nike ads. Thus, masculinity is the complex notion which rules the life of men in order to confirm their gender, status, and social position.
The Stetson, Djarum Super, and Nike advertisements seem to be about energetic and confident men and about products which contribute to the males’ active behaviors, but these ads are really about the features and qualities which are associated with masculinity and actions of a ‘real man’ according to the definite code of conduct for males.
Masculinity is a complex of rules and ideas which are usually followed by men during all their life. It depends on the demonstration of strength and focus on success and victory, the demonstration of aggression and readiness to risk. The physical attractiveness and emotional expressiveness are perceived as the female qualities that is why they are prohibited according to the ‘Guy Code’ or code of masculinity (Kimmel). Men are afraid of being compared with women when it is a result of the other men’s perception.
The Stetson advertisement seems to be about a handsome man using the definite perfume. The advertisement to promote the Stetson perfume for males presents a man in a car against the background of the wild nature (“Stetson”).
Discussing the visual with the help of the masculinity lens, it is necessary to concentrate on the details which can attract the men’s attention and become associated with masculinity in order to make the potential male customer buy the product. Thus, the man’s appearance is associated with strength because of the accentuated muscles and the definite male face expression with frowning brows. These details help create the image of a masculine man.
The man is depicted in a red car, and the color is typically associated with courage and aggression. The background of the visual is the picture of the wild nature which can be connected with the pictures of the American wild territories (“Stetson”).
Focusing on the pitch, this advertisement makes the audience believe that the portrayed man can be discussed as the image of the typical American who uses the production of the Stetson company because it emphasizes his masculinity. From this point, the cultural context of the advertisement is presented through the manipulation of the male American’s image.
The above-mentioned details allow speaking about the effective usage of the masculinity idea in promotion. According to Kimmel, men are inclined to focus on the images of ‘real men’ during their childhood in order to follow these ideals during their ‘guy’ period (Kimmel).
The advertisement can be discussed as depending on the strong associations which are the result of the men’s following the code of masculinity. Males are expected to positively react to such elements as the car, which is traditionally a ‘toy’ for adults, the red color associated with aggression, wild nature associated with risks, and muscles along with the masculine appearance associated with strength.
Thus, the male image presented in the advertisement can be discussed as the embodiment of masculinity with references to many rules presented in the Guy Code. The Stetson advertisement seems to be about a handsome man using the definite perfume, but it can also be about the ideal embodiment of a man according to the code of masculinity which is based on associations.
More direct messages are provided in the advertisement developed to promote the Djarum Super cigarettes (“Djarum Super”). The Djarum Super advertisement seems to be about an alpinist who can achieve the highest tops. Smoking is often discussed as a habit which is typical mainly for men.
To make males buy the product, it is important to provide the association which will be pleasant for them. The visual represents a man climbing a rock against the background of strong grey and brown rocks and the pale sky. The man likes extreme, he is not afraid to risk because of focusing on strong feelings and emotions. Red colors are also presented in this visual to emphasize the atmosphere of risk and brutality (“Djarum Super”).
If the man presented in the first advertisement evokes masculinity associations indirectly, the male figure depicted in the second advertisement is directly associated with a strong man who used to overcome problematic situations, barriers, and challenges in order to reach the top.
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The advertisement makes the male audience believe that extreme and risks are characteristic for men, and it is one of the masculinity elements. It is possible to predict men’s interest in the brand of cigarettes promoted because of the vivid associations. Thus, the advertisement wants the viewer to believe that smoking is for brave men who can achieve the highest tops. The cultural context is rather insignificant in this case.
Following Kimmel’s discussion of masculinity and men’s fears to be considered as gays, it is necessary to note that the advertisement for the Djarum Super brand rejects any associations with feminine men. The presented man does not cry, but he is persistent while reaching the set goal.
The image can be discussed as supported by the society in relation to the opinion on the ‘real man’ and idea of masculinity (Kimmel). As a result, the advertisement seems to be about brave alpinists, but it could be about such qualities as courage, persistence, confidence, and the ability to take risks which allow speaking about the male’s masculinity.
Nevertheless, the message presented in the advertisement is more effective when it is accompanied by the written text. The advertisements developed to promote the Nike’s campaign seem to be about the famous sportsmen presenting the new shirts in a rather provocative manner.
The advertisement with Aidil Zafuan where the man is stripping off his skin to represent the shirt is accompanied with the controversial slogan “Shirt on. Fear off” (“Nike”). This written text provides the direct reference to the code of masculinity according to which men should not feel any fear and demonstrate their weakness.
The advertisement wants the viewer to believe that men should not feel fear and promote the associated Nike production. Sportsmen are the best models to emphasize the idea of the male strength. Men are interested in sport because they are interested in results, success, and victory.
All these points along with the idea of avoiding fear are highlighted in the Nike advertisement. In spite of the fact the cultural context of the Nike advertisement is specific and the visual represents the Malaysian footballer, the masculinity idea is accentuated clearly and without references to the national or cultural aspect.
It is possible to interpret the Nike advertisement with references to Kimmel’s claim and state that it is easier for men to skip off their skin than to admit or demonstrate their fear (Kimmel). Boys do not cry, and the advertisers operated this idea fully. The advertisement seems to be about sportsmen stripping off their skin, but it is really about the connection between sport, fashion, and masculinity because ‘real men’ do not feel fear and pain, and sportsmen are the best examples.
While the discussed advertisements seem to be promoting the definite products, they are really promoting the image of a man based on the idea of masculinity and encouraging the associated males’ behaviors. A superficial viewer may believe the Stetson, Djarum Super, and Nike advertisements to be about energetic and confident men, but the viewer who is familiar with Kimmel’s claim would see the advertisements as really selling the image of a ‘real man’ whose masculinity is also associated with the usage of the promoted products.
The above-mentioned advertisements attract the male audience because they operate the concepts related to the code of masculinity discussed by Kimmel. The code of masculinity stresses on definite attitudes and behaviors reflecting a man’s masculine nature, and these norms reject any signs of the feminine behaviors in men.
However, the effect can be decreased, if the advertisements are done differently. I can state that if the Stetson advertisement focuses more on a handsome model, the idea to represent a ‘real man’ can fail. If the Djarum Super advertisement is represented with the changed illustration, the idea of masculinity will not work. If the Nike advertisement is presented with the other text, the whole message cannot be interpreted correctly.
Thus, the idea of a ‘real man’ is a complex notion which includes definite actions, emotions, feelings, behaviors, and aspects of appearance, and the Stetson, Djarum Super, and Nike advertisements are developed to support this idea related to the masculinity concept.
“Djarum Super”. n.d. JPEG file. Web.
Kimmel, Michael. “Bros before Hos: The Guy Code”. Rereading America. Ed. Gary Colombo, Robert Cullen, and Bonnie Lisle. USA: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2010. 608-617. Print.
“Nike: Malaya Posters”. 2012. JPEG file. Web.
“Stetson: Tom Brady”. 2007. JPEG file. Web.