October 9, 2012 by bryannosaurusrex
There comes a time in a man’s life when he discovers the truth. A truth so mind-bendingly dangerous and controversial he must keep it a secret for the rest of his days. No man can foresee when it will happen, or where he will be when it does, but the truth will eventually hit him in the face like a runaway train carrying the Swedish beach volleyball team during a heat wave. That truth goes something like this:
‘I am James Bond disguised as Indiana Jones driving the Bat mobile, and I’m the only one that knows. Nothing I or anyone else can do will make me better in any way. Women want me and other men want to be me, even if they don’t realise it. ’
Nowhere is this more evident than in the following advertisements:
However, for 33-50% of all men, none of the previous statement is in any way true. It has been found in a number of studies (Page & Allen 1995; Williams & Currie 2000; Vartanian, Giant, & Passino, 2001 ) that not only are a high percentage of men dissatisfied with their physiques, but in some cases men come to actively dislike advertisement campaigns that depict handsome, muscular ‘ideal’ males. So what do most companies do? (not the companies involved in the so called ‘health and fitness industry’). They use normal men in their advertisements. The previous ads are perfect examples of this. Instead of alienating a large percentage of the male population by using rippling Adonis figures, a company can use an ‘average’ man and recruit them as a customer. You could go as far as to say they actively use below average males, or in some cases as in the Ad below, make fun of the gym rats.
This is no secret to the advertisement agencies. Look back at the advertisements aimed at men over the years, and apart from the ones selling magic powders and supplements, they use pretty average men. So why has it taken companies so long to catch on when it comes to women? And why have so many companies refused to follow Doves ‘campaign for real beauty’ and Special K’s ‘What will you gain’ campaign?
Morry & Staska (2001) and Richins (1991), along with a multitude of others, have demonstrated time and again that women’s body satisfaction decreases when they are exposed to advertisements depicting thin women. In fact, Richins’ research has shown that if you advertise to women, using an ‘ideal’ woman, it will alienate a large percentage of the population. Which, if you can cast your mind back to the beginning of this piece, happens if you advertise to men using ‘ideal’ males. So why don’t more companies adopt the same approach when advertising to women as they do with men? I don’t know. But they should.