Wednesday, 26 July 2006

AN OUTING FOR AD-MEN

In case you haven’t noticed there are some pretty gay 'goings-on' going-on in the advertising world - particularly when it comes to the marketing of men's underwear.

There was a time - back in the halcyon, post-war days when Marks & Spencer weren't always in financial trouble and the women folk did the shopping, when it was said that wives and mothers bought men their underwear --- and mostly from M&S.

Today that seems considerably less likely. For example a recent news story --- sorry, item of gossip --- revealed that even the former captain of the England football team, David Beckham, buys his own knickers...

Allegedly, David spends £1000 a month on several dozen pairs of Calvin Klein underpants and only ever wears them once before throwing them away --- but, hey, so what? Maybe Victoria simply can't get the hang of how the washing machine works...

Anyway, let's just suppose, for the purpose of this argument, that the majority of customers who currently shop for male underwear are, in fact, male.

My question is: 'In what direction does their needle point when it comes to sexual orienteering?'

I am, of course, well aware that many manufacturers are chasing the highly lucrative ‘pink pound’, but surely - even based on the most generously calculated statistics - the gay community can’t be single-handedly keeping these companies in business?

Obviously not...

Then why are so many of them going in for such patently homoerotic advertising?

Psychologists may tell me that Abercrombie & Fitch’s use of virtually nude men to sell clothes is really about creating an illusion in the mind of the would-be purchaser that if he buys some new A&F gear he’ll also get a newly pepped-up body to go with it…

But the gay swishy-ness of it all is decidedly puzzling and A&F are not alone...

Plenty of other companies seem to be consciously concerning themselves with the extent to which their product placement is 'in' or 'out' of the closet…

Take the case of Wax brand who are so anxiously hedging their bets that they ran - and then removed - this curiously ambiguous image from their website…


Others seem perfectly glad to be (possibly) gay...

In the case of C-in-2, one is left wondering what on earth they were thinking of when they came up with their current campaign showing a brace of law-enforcement officers catching a couple of C-in-2-wearers, literally, with their pants down…


Obviously we're into fantasy time here, but precisely whose fantasies are being catered for?

One might ask the same of a raft of advertisements that have surfaced in what might be called ‘The post-Brokeback Mountain era’.

Cowboy imagery is now most definitely ‘in’ - and with decidedly gay undertones; and no one is more up for this than Ginch Gonch, as their current advertising campaign reveals…


It's no good asking me, of course, but maybe amongst the chaps in Straightworld, this kind of soft gay imagery implies nothing more than a bit of youthful fun and frolic, a sense of the freedom that existed in the days before relationships, mortgages and babies: an opportunity - in the imagination, at least - to be able to rustle a few bulls and horse-around with the fellas in a ‘macho male-bonding (without having to going quite as far as those two dudes in the movie) kind-of-way'.

But then, maybe it’s not such a new concept after all: witness the undercover activities of these all-American guys from the 1930’s…


Now, I guess that, seventy years ago, the slogan:'And now the Shorts with the Seamless Crotch go Gay! (BUT NOT TOO GAY)' scarcely raised a single eyebrow, but what about this one...?


Are you seriously telling me that the lads depicted - ostensibly trying to see if they can tear that 'NO-TARE FLY' - weren't really flirting with a decorous form of the same forbidden-fruit-picking fantasy currently being encouraged by so many of today's advertisers?

3 comments:

David Weeks said...

"Are you seriously telling me that the lads depicted - ostensibly trying to see if they can tear that 'NO-TARE FLY' - weren't really flirting with a decorous form of the same forbidden-fruit-picking fantasy currently being encouraged by so many of today's advertisers?"

Well today, the materials used in men's underwear is so much more sophisticated and advanced that this crude type of testing looks risible.
Now, the test is to see how smoothly and quickly the said garments may slip to the gound!

PS. The verification this time was; 'iqigbylt' which could be related to a word that might fit with this Blog item!

Scrooge said...

An interesting feature (and not at all an excuse to reproduce pictures of gentlemen in a state of undress)If nothing else, it will allow me to pass the advert on Arrow Underwear to my ensemble of friends, who are known collectively as The Arrow Group.Naturally, as befits a 21st century collective, they boast a gay man alongside their divorced and married numbers and perhaps this is the crux of your piece. Most men today know and are friends with, at least one gay man.The stereotype is no longer some Kenneth Williams or Quentin Crisp caricature but a caring, unthreatening and considerate guy. Maybe thats why advertisers can afford to take risks - and they are doing so in TV commercials as well as peiodicals. Cynically,one might say the pink pound has pulling power but maybe the sort of man that reads and notices those ads is just getting 'in touch' with his feminine side....aided by his considerate gay friend of course ! Hmm - this sounds more like a Hugh Grant film every minute.

Brian Sibley said...

Your response, Mr Scrooge, is very interesting and, I think, accurate -- apart from the scurrilous suggestion that I should have some unaccountable desire to publish pictures of men in a state of semi-undress!

In fact, I'd go further and say that it gives a usefully non-threatening aura to their advertisements: a certain larkiness, with a dash of outrageousness and the option to buy in (or OUT) of the image to whatever degree you choose...

And if any of the 'little women' are still buying their men's skivvies, then they probably feel more comfortable with sensitive gay cowhands than with randy old macho bulls!

The alternative explanation is that 90% of those working in the advertising industry are simply GAY! Which is a possibility! ;-)

What remains fascinating is the extent to which some manufacturers still find it difficult to decided whether or not to have the odd gay fling: witness Guinness' TV commercial that got pulled before it was aired and the existence of which - for a long time - the beer company strenuously denied.

The history of the Guinness ad (and the ad itself) can be viewed on the intriguing site, The Commercial Closet which monitors these goinon even more assiduously than the Sibley blog!