As a man, and a copywriter in the advertising industry, I sit on both sides of the aisle on this one. I am both the producer of advertising, and the consumer of products. I buy stuff that is aimed squarely at me, and I aim my advertisements squarely at people just like me, too.
And over the years, I have noticed that the adverts seem to fall into several big buckets. There are obviously more than six categories, but most fit into them. If you're a woman reading this, some will apply to you, too. After all, you also buy products for men. But advertisements that are aimed at you, for you, tend to fall into different categories that we'll discuss in another article.
So, here then are the six big ways men are patronized to be advertisers every day of the year. And sadly, they work. Again and again and again.
1: Men Like Manly Things
You only have to look at ads for beer, razors, cars, watches and even shower gel to see that. You can't sell a man a pink poofy plastic ball to use in the shower. A man's has to be black and red and blue and be accompanied by a powerful rock anthem and a ton of hot chicks swooning over his studly shower tool.
Men don't buy razor blades that glide effortlessly. Well, they do. But they make the sound of an Indy car as the rush across our cheeks. And there'll be a woman's hand massaging our smooth chin, for some reason.
Cars are enormous penis extensions. Shower gel is related to planting your face headfirst in the ice and snow of Mount Everest, followed by splashing a torrent of near freeing water over our faces in a move that would make Bear Grylls cry for his "mum."
Men are men, and we absolutely love the cliché. And as long as we love being men, advertisers will love putting it on the end of a hook and reeling us in.
2: Men Are Crass, Puerile, Arrogant, Slobbish, Insensitive Jackasses.
Oh, we really are bastards. And we love it. A classic ad for British product "Super Noodles" shows guys being guys. In one ad, two men lick the plates clean then put them back in the cupboard to use again next time. In another, the guys are throwing noodles at a window, and commenting on the race as they slide down. They may as well be six years old.
Women, this tact would not work on. But as men, we like to celebrate our immaturity. So what if we haven't grown up yet? Who cares if we don't cry at movies, and fart during wedding ceremonies? We're the guys, the lads, the good ol' boys who know how to have a good time and don't give a crap who we offend.
And while we love to celebrate this fact, we'll keep buying products that target us in this way, from beer and pizza to deodorant and shampoo, we don't mind buying products that tell us to be childish and proud of it.
3: Men Like Women
Oh my lord, how we like women. Or a certain type of woman anyway, judging by the ads aimed at us by advertisers and marketers around the globe.
For some reason, draping a leggy blonde or brunette over a car makes the appeal of said vehicle go up tenfold. Maybe we think we'll score with a Playboy bunny if we buy the car? Or maybe they'll buy one for us!
Sex sells. When it comes to beer, we are bombarded with images of scantily-clad models holding cans of ice-cold lager, laughing at our jokes, finding us irresistible and also incredibly handsome. But it's us who drink the beer, so why do they have the beer goggles on?
And then there are those ads that portray women who are "tens" chasing nerdy guys and average Joes down the high street because they sprayed something slightly nice smelling under their smelly pits that morning. Yes, that happens.
But for some reason, we all look. And we buy. And we buy again.