Friday, July 13, 2007

Aren't You Ashamed... of Anything, Gentlemen?

Apparently, not so much.

I spent quite a while last night searching through magazines, both general interest and those targeted specifically at men, and found only a tiny percentage of ads that tried to exploit men's insecurities about hygene, body image and sex appeal.

Its would seem that advertisers of the 40's and 50's did not feel that this strategy would win over very many male consumers. Most ads directed at men took a positive tack. I guess guys respond better to ads that reinforce how great we feel about ourselves!

In all seriousness, this week's topic has been a real eye opener for me about how long is the history of advertising reinforcing female insecurities about self image. Whether this is a symptom of an industry that was for the longest time dominated by men - that is to say, if more women had been in a position to determine how women's products would be presented to their target audience back in those days - I'll leave for you to decide.

For now let's put all this negativity behind us. Next week, we once again "accentuate the positive".

* A reminder to check out the current issue of PRINT magazine - The Consumption Issue - for an article by Steven Heller to which little ol' me contributed some images related to this week's topic.

* Also, a note to once again thank all of you who have thrown off your blurking cloaks to introduce yourselves and comment on recent posts. I get a huge kick from learning who you are, visiting your blogs and websites, and just hearing how much Today's Inspiration means to you. Many thanks!

* Finally, a note to those who have signed up to the Today's Inspiration mailing list but have not been receiving your full size art scans. Unfortunately, about a dozen emails are bounced back each day by various spam detection programs your ISP has installed in their networks. I suppose this is the inevitable consequence of sending nearly 500 emails with attachments in one burst. Some email servers will suspect that my message is spam. Unfortunately I don't know how to correct that problem from my end so if you are one of those folks who had signed up but has not been receiving Today's Inspiration, that's probably the reason. Just so you don't think I'm ignoring you.


  1. Thanks for that Leif, I feel so unclean now and I have this urge to go out and buy something.

    I look forward to next week's positives.

  2. Hahaha, that last ad is great! Another neurosis founded by clever advertising.

    Yes, please, a return to Childcraft! I hope you don't give up this topic, as it's certainly important, but I really could use an illustration of Mrs. Otter teaching Little Frog how to bake a cake on Monday.


    I am honestly so stressed about my dandruff right now. This stuff is still potent :(

  3. Leif, it seems to me that these ads preying on the insecurity of men and women are just the precursors to all the ads we receive today in the form of e-mail spam for breast augmentation and magic pills that will make you "more of a man." Measured against today's ads, I think I prefer the ads you've featured this week.

  4. The dandruff guy has more than one problem -- he kind of looks like Hitler, did you notice? I wonder if it's on purpose? I found it a little jarring!

  5. I didn't notice the Hitler resemblence until after I read Newyorkette's comment; I was thinking Peter Sellers until then.

    Four razor blades for 10 cents. Holy Smacks! I just bought four cartridges for $12!! Granted, each cartidges has four blades, plus one on the back for tight spots, but Man Alive! I like the prices and the advertising from yesteryear much better.