Exercise 4.1 Looking at Adverts

I looked at Number 15 in the series of Looking at Adverts, on cosmetics for men and the masculinity of products.  Adverts for men are full of images of men who are depicted as rugged, athletic, groomed.  In particular, it made me think of adverts for perfume and aftershave.  The female versions are of beautiful women in situations that suggest mystery or that they are childlike in a wonderland.  Some depict women running away in dressed in beautiful dresses.  It seems that the female will get her man if she uses this perfume.  The male equivalents are full of suited males, looking important and busy or athletic and outdoors lovers with diving off cliffs or coming out of the waves.  The epitome of this is the advert for Invictus aftershave by Paco Rabanne where the Hero is a god who conquers all including the women.  It is a bit tongue on cheek but still attaches the Hero status to what is basically a cosmetic grooming product.

Dawn Wooley says that “The Clinique for Men adverts seem simple; the commodities are not cosmetic products but tools for men. They facilitate ‘work’ and perform some sort of labour.”  I have noticed this too, from the packaging for men’s products.  Most of it is in strong dark colours such as navy blue, dark green or grey.  The packaging is functional without any other pictures or wording – clean lines on dark packaging.  I agree that it  appears “the product is made to signify a scientific process, an investment and a form of labour”.   Why should this be?  From the female perspective I find that cosmetics for women are now colour coded as being fun, flirty, a bit naughty to indulge yourself but it doesn’t matter because we are worth it. This is the opposite of men – females are allowed to indulge themselves and are expected to do so; for males it is functional rather than desirable.  So maybe they do become tools.


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