The above collage is a visual representation what advertisers would consider the ideal, male, middle-class, college student consumer. He is an indolent, almost infantile male, who is unwilling to question advertisements because of sheer laziness. The ideal male consumer is willing to purchase anything peddled as long as the advertising involves sexy, scantily clad women, a fast car, or sports (all things that by normative standards contribute to the definitions of a “man”.) In Katz’s analysis he states that instead of trying to sell a good or service, “what they’re really selling is a vision of masculinity-adventurous, aggressive, and violent-that provides men of all classes with a standard of “real manhood” against which to judge themselves “(355). This is similar to how advertising that is aimed for women sell the idea of beauty: if a woman doesn’t purchase a product, then she will not be deemed beautiful. Masculinity is defined by advertisers, and if one does not buy the advertised product then one can not be truly masculine.
Advertisers view males as insecure beings that will spend as long as the product will help them laid or seem tougher and manlier. This can be seen in any commercial or advertisement geared towards men. Invariably, regardless of the product, advertising contains attractive women, a sports hero, or an attractive male doing something rugged and normatively masculine. Commercials and ads for televisions, candy, cars, shaving cream, clothing, power tools, and anything else that advertisers want men to buy all utilize the same images of trying to sell “being a man,” as if it was a challenge extended to the consumer, and if they do not purchase the product, they will fail as men. Advertisers “incorporate more rough, tough, and vigorous qualities, in an attempt to validate the products within the range of masculinities acceptable to the type of purchaser,” (Kirkham & Weller, 272). By tying the products to masculinity, the ideal consumer feels inadequate for not purchasing the product, or feels that not purchasing the product will lead to being ostracized for being feminine. To an advertiser, the ideal male consumer is someone who is so wrapped up in societal definitions of masculinity (sexual prowess, athleticism, strength, etc.), that they will buy anything that hints at making them more masculine, which is in sharp contrast with who I am as a consumer.
I don’t perceive myself to fall into this stratum of the ideal male consumer. I don’t find the need to fit myself into the mold of masculinity as defined by advertiser. I don’t purchase products because I believe myself to be inadequate, or because I don’t embody the typical ideals of masculinity. I don’t know anything about cars, I’m not particularly successful with girls, and I’m not particularly good at sports (that’s kind of a lie), but I know that buying products won’t rectify the situation. I’m more than aware that regardless of what a Sketchers advertisement says, a pair of shoes won’t make me an overnight sensation with girls. I know that taking Viagra won’t give me the ability to swing a big stick like Rafael Palmiero. I know that drinking Gatorade won’t make me as good as Peyton Manning in football. And while I do drink Gatorade, I do so because of the quality of the product, not because of the messages sent by the advertising. That perhaps is the biggest difference between the ideal consumer and me. I purchase products based on quality not the promises made by advertisements. A drink could be marketed as “The Drink that Only Impotent, Fat, Ugly Future Bums Drink,” and I would drink it as long as it tasted good. Ultimately the perception of masculinity, while undoubtedly important to almost all males, is not something I am consumed by. Thusly I find myself unaffected by advertising for products that promise the appearance of brute, rugged, sexually virile masculinity.
Kirkham. P, & Weller, A. Cosmetics, A Clinique Case Study.
Katz, J. Advertising and the Construction of Violent White Masculinity: From Eminem to Clinique for Men.