Thursday, March 5, 2015

Semiotics in masculinity

Antiperspirant tycoons and savvy advertisers put their heads together to reach a market of product hungry male consumers. Although It's safe to say men subscribe to the merits of smelling good for the sake of smelling good, underlying sexual self worth and masculine deprecation play a role. Advertisements advocating for the importance of deodorant fuel their argument with an onslaught of promiscuous imagery, manly prowess, and anything else to get the nestled dollar sign sardines to slip out of the wallet can. What better way to indoctrinate a rabble sprouting self conscious stress then by driving a marketable stake through the heart of preteens internationally. Scanning both the axe ad and the old spice, one serves as a stepping stone to the other. To maximize profits and effectively persuade, the money grubbing businessman has to start milking the cow early on.

Muddled colors give way for an angst ridden erotic message in the axe ad. Center left reads "Axe dark temptation, as irresistible as chocolate." The message conveyed paints a erotically jarring portrait, where a silky haired youth stands wide eyed and ecstatic, seemingly satisfied with a body carved and composed of chocolate. both "dark" and irresistible" in the text are considerably heavier than the remainder of the body as the two pungent points of exclamation embody desired qualities of the user after applying the product. Dark, in the instance, is synonymous with a void of light bad boy image whereas "irresistible" falls in par with the products excellence in execution. Deliberately geared towards middle school/ high school puberty pods, the delectable splendor of chocolate hops aboard the toiletry train to spread its desirable goodness in a different medium. The preconceived assumption is "Universally, chocolate is swell. Therefore, you're swell." The transitive properties influence consolidated with enticing a budding audience hits hard in increasing demand and triggering a receptive response in the reader.

The old spice ad represents an evolutionary no nonsense attitude. Slipping away from the juvenile antics of sugar coating bodily sanitation, old spice caters to being delightfully debonaire in odor and temperament. The text is stark and straightforward. No absurd elaborations are implemented. "Smell like a man, man" is curt, concise, but powerful in content. Masculinity is not only expected, but demanded by the old spice ad, and using their products guarantees acceptance into the gates of manhood. Environmentally, the watery landscape and naturalistic hype give the ad a robust and hearty feel, reinforcing cleanliness with the spacious body of water. The man depicted is rugged, mustached, and muscular. He is the epitome of burly refinement. A regally rigid individual. Holding up a bundle of just used products, his wavering finger illuminates the focal message. Straight to the point textual evidence collides head on with the quaint aftertaste of being an old spice kind of guy.

Though maybe not the best example I could of utilized in the name of semiotics, I chose the deodorant ads to shed light on the evolutionary stages of advertizing towards an aging audience. Although they're seemingly innocent in the way they solidify the success of their products, entrenched underlying meaning can be found in both with enough digging. Axe pays homage to the aspiring man by using a childish quality to fortify smelling good. As time goes by, the immature antics are dropped to place a man under a "speak softly, but carry a big stick" lens. To efficiently draw out intent and strategy within a dreary dog eats dog world, "researchers need objectivity and distance when researching culture and cultural events" to read between the lines and further understand the human condition in product promotion.                             

1 comment:

  1. I actually think you could write a really excellent article on the semiotics of deodorant. And it would be very cool and illuminating to also expand to compare men's deodorant with women's deodorant, and see how these products construct masculinity and femininity so differently (some with an essentialist bent, arguing that men's and women's sweat is fundamentally different-- culturally and even chemically...). Anyway, good choice of topic here!