Old Spice | The Man Your Man Could Smell Like

Posted on January 9, 2012 by


I was flipping through a copy of Rolling Stone’s “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time”, (yes you could say I’m the stereotypical musician..) and I came upon Old Spice’s “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” ad campaign which does a lot more than just perpetuate its title. The commercial is a great example of interpellation, seeking the male gaze from women while pushing the hyperbolic stereotype of the “perfect man” onto men watching (I buy Old Spice..), and I thought it could be interesting to check out in conjunction with one of the previous blog posts about advertisements and what they do to men.

This ad campaign is not the only one of its kind in the Old Spice arsenal with other titles including the, “Spend The Holidays With Me” ad, the most current Manta Clause Campaign featured on their website’s home page. And upon further investigation I have found older ads that are more dated, and only to the benefit of seeing how long Old Spice has used the same techniques, and because they work. The older ads still contain the clever comic aspect and barrage of scenes that flip by with fast pace, filled with stereotypes of gender roles, race, and social class by way of the rich-white-successful male in this instance–(the Bruce Campbell “Ahoy” ad on this link–http://www.ranker.com/list/the-42-greatest-old-spice-commercials-of-all-time/ihateeverything). That link from ranker.com shows ads that perfectly mask their blunt use of stereotypes with comedy that definitely has people laughing at stereotypical portraits of each other–as per the intro paragraph and captions written by the poster of that list–And I  would further point you to the “Is It Right For Me” commercial, for a use of a wide variety of specifically targeted social stereotypes).

There’s also a montage of Terry Crew ads on the first video in the list which perpetuates racial stereotypes of black males as animals with Crew screaming, never ceasing to flex his muscles that seem to be a constantly reflective surface, and on top of a tiger at the end of one of the ads in the loud and monotonous montage. Also interesting to compare is the Old Spice ads that use Isaiah Mustafa as the whitewashed black dude that is without a shirt, hanging sweaters from his neck, and riding a white horse at the end of the “Man Your Man Could Smell Like” ads.

With all of that, just browsing through the first 5 videos posted on the “42 Greatest” link you can see how much Old Spice uses the male gaze technique to target both men(with the sexualized images of women crawling towards men–in the Bruce Campbell ad), and women with the men that look good with their shirts off, have deep voices, and seem more manly than what’s real (http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&NR=1&v=owGykVbfgUE–“The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” ad). All of their ads spotlight people magnified by their stereotypes using the male gaze and cleverness to draw us in, and most signature to the Old Spice campaign, comedy, to mask it in a way that seems natural and inoffensive.



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