By Jodi A. Shaw
Either the media gods have been listening to my pleas or there’s a refreshing new trend in advertising these days.
Over the last few months, TV commercials have not only been advertising products and services, but have been encouraging something a little more surprising: gender equality. Amazing!
I first noticed it when Jason Alexander, more famously known as the rotund George Costanza on “Seinfeld,” joined the cast of Jenny Craig. Traditionally, diet and weight loss commercials have featured female spokespersons, while exercise equipment and work out programs tended to feature men (Tony Little, Tony Horton, Billy Blanks . . . need I go on?). You might well suppose that women are expected to eat less or take a magic pill to slim down, while men are expected to pump iron (or whatever the current gadget is) to bulk up. Left out of this advertising equation is the fact that plenty of men out there need to slim down, and plenty of women want to tone as well as trim.
Remember Hal Johnson and Joanne McLeod from the BodyBreak ads? They had it right, promoting a healthy diet and exercise for both men and women.
The Corona beer ads have raised their game too. In last year’s edition, we saw a couple sitting on a beach as a woman in a bikini walked by. The man made no attempt to disguise his ogling, and his partner calmly squirted him with a lime.
This year, Corona has changed sides.
A muscular man strolls by in front of the sunbathing couple, and this time the woman gawks. A battle ensues in which, while she is distracted, he shakes her beer bottle, but the point is made: women look also. Thanks Corona!
Then there’s my favourite of the moment, Old Spice’s “I’m on a horse” man.
Too many romance novels, soap operas, and chick flicks leave too many women dreaming of the man Old Spice is poking fun at — strong, sexy, manly and sensitive, nurturing, and emotional. The ridiculousness of Old Spice’s perfect man illuminates, at least for me, the unfair pressure placed on men to be all things to all women. And instead of using a sexy woman to sell a man body wash (Axe), Old Spice uses a sexy man, making fun of the perfect man, to sell men’s body wash to women. I love it!
Advertising has a long way to go before I’ll give it a thumbs up for representing the genders equally and realistically, but I’m enjoying the direction it’s taking.