One of the most pervasive male stereotypes in advertising is the strong, silent type. The most famous of these is the Marlboro Man, a dude alone on horseback with a pack of cigarettes and nothing around him but cattle and a wide-open prairie.
Tom Nakayama at the Center for Media Literacy says that this stereotype damages men because it presents a very limited form of masculinity. “In general, these concentrated views of manhood suggest the many ways in which advertising negatively affects men by narrowing the definition of what it means to be a man in American society,” Nakayama writes.
As times change the jobs and scenarios that the aloof, silent man finds himself may change, but the message is still the same. This representative of the masculine ideal is little more than a romanticized meat suit of bottled aggression waiting to be unleashed.
Three years ago, videographer Connor Simmons had some fun with this stereotype by creating a video called, “How to Advertise to Men.” The mock commercial features a man photographed in black and white, walking alone near a mountain range and looking extremely bored.
The video’s producers note that this scenario can be used to sell just about any product.
“The product is irrelevant at this point, it could be aftershave or whisky or sunglasses or this watch. It really doesn’t matter. What matters is, the product looks cool,” the deep-voiced narrator says.
The ad hopes to mock these cliché advertisements out of existence because they’re not great for the male psyche and they’re predictable and boring. Spread this video far and wide and maybe, just maybe, advertisers will be forced to come up with a new idea.