The advertisement I have presented for analysis is for Old Spice men’s personal hygiene products. An initial glimpse of this advertisement would lead you to believe it is similar to any other advertisement for this type of product that you may encounter in your everyday life. However, upon a closer inspection, we will find that this advertisement is more complex than initially assumed. By reevaluating this advertisement, it becomes compelling that the advertisement is not focusing on the product being marketed. The predominant focus of the image is the man pictured.
In that, it becomes conclusive that Old Spice is not necessarily attempting to sell hygiene products, rather a lifestyle and appearance standard purported as more desirable to a particular audience. The audience that Old Spice is reaching for with their ad is young men. James Twitchell describes how advertisements work to sell images in his piece titled “But First, a Word from Our Sponsors”. By using the work of Twitchell, I will be illustrating precisely how Old Spice is using gender roles as well as a physical appearance standard to sell their product.
By criticizing a number of the more compelling components of his advertisement, a conclusion will be made that Old Spice would like to compel a young man into assuming that his lifestyle is displeasing in comparison to the type of lifestyle he is yearning for. If he does not live or look similar to the presented standard, he is less masculine or not good enough as a man. Twitchell addresses this aspect of advertising tactics by stating “If you can make a sale to these young twentysomethings, if you can ‘brand’ them with your product, you may have them for life.
But to do this you have to be able to speak to them, and to do that you have to go to where you will e heard” (472). This ad contains many elements insinuating their message; however, by using the distinctive details I will strengthen the argument that this advertisement is proving many companies are selling something other than products. The striking elements worth considering are: the left half of the body of the man portrayed and the details present, the right half of the body of the man portrayed and consequently those details present, as well as the copy located at the bottom of the ad.
Twitchell states that all advertisements work by transferring meaning onto the product. By stating “What is clear is that most things in and of themselves simply do not mean enough. In fact, what we crave may not be objects at all but their meaning” (472) Twitchell proves his theory. In this Old Spice advertisement it is undeniable that the company is forcing a meaning rather than a product considering that the product is not the dominant focal point in the image.
To further indicate his viewpoint of how the advertising industry sells meaning with the product, Twitchell says “Before all else, we must realize modern advertising is tied primarily to things and only second to services. Manufacturing both things and their meaning is what American culture is all about” (470). Old Spice is utilizing that approach in their ad. If they can target a young man and his emotions about his image and inadequacies while implying their products can provide a replacement for what he now feels he is lacking, the company is well on their way to a complete sale.
Twitchell further satisfies his argument about the way advertising applies to our culture rather than just some people by stating “The culture we live in is carried on the back of advertising. Now I mean that iterally” (468). Accurately describing this Old Spice ad and how advertisements are more often than not designed to be directed at either the male or female gender, Twitchell remarks “Adcult is recombinant culture. This is how it has to be if advertisers are to be able to direct their spiels at the appropriate audiences for their products” (473).
With the condition that Old Spice uses advertising techniques to capitalize on a young man’s emotions, they can ultimately use his emotions to sell to him. Twitchell references this aspect of advertising by stating “They essentially ent our concentration to other companies-sponsors-for the dubious purpose of informing us of something that we’ve longed for all or lives even though we’ve never heard of it before” (468). The first detail of this ad I would like to discuss is the copy.
The copy reads “Somewhere in there there’s a man in there. Old Spice. Smell better than yourself”. By generalizing that statement, it serves to prove Old Spice is explicitly telling the intended audience that he is not good enough. tell the reader that very clearly with the line that reads “smell better than yourself”. Further scrutinizing the copy, the company is expressing to the young man he is not masculine enough. Old Spice does this with a section of the copy that reads “Somewhere in there there’s a man in there”.
With this copy, Old Spice is effectively able to send the message to young men that he may not good enough; however, with the help of their products he won’t feel as troubled about not measuring up to expectations. The next element of significance in this ad I will inspect is the man depicted. This man has two contrasting segments. The left half of the man is portraying a stereotypical image of a nerd hile the right side of him is a blatant contrast in comparison. His left half is wearing black plastic framed glasses.
Comparatively, his right which is the implied more interesting and desirable half does not wear glasses at all. This aspect of the image is essentially telling the expected audience that if he is vision impaired, he is less masculine therefore making him less attractive. Intending to persuade the young man viewing this ad that he is not good enough, Old Spice is conveying that by needing glasses he is less exciting. a man. They Located on the left side of the man we can find a further detail f relevance.
He is wearing a cross body style bag commonly used to carry books. Comparatively, the right half who is the implied superior persona is wearing a guitar in place of the bag. The intention behind this element is to suggest to the young man viewing this advertisement that being literate is not an exciting quality to retain. Old Spice is also conveying that if he enjoys reading in his free time he is less adventurous. If the young man is less adventurous, he will also conclude that he is less masculine reducing him to an inferior male.
While this advertisement has additional visual aspects, the inal detail I would like to interpret is the difference in the physique between the two sides of the man. The left side of the man is visibly heavier than the right side. Old Spice makes this detail prevalent by decreasing the size of the man right at the location where the split occurs. Covering the left half of the man’s body from the waist up is a tee-shirt while the right half of the man remains shirtless. Essentially, Old Spice has resorted to body shaming to exploit the emotions of the young man viewing this ad.
There is a statement directed at the viewer of the ad oming from this detail which is declaring that if he is overweight or heavier than his peers, he is also less attractive and inferior as a man. In conclusion, by examining this advertisement more intently and delving into the elements presented it becomes clear that Old Spice is not just attempting to sell a product. Alternatively, these details are indicative of an effort by the company to merchandise an image and lifestyle to young men. The company uses the details in this ad intently to express to a young man that he wants desires a more attractive appearance and an exhilarating life.
The techniques used in this ad are appealing to the emotions of the viewer, therefore causing him to feel less masculine, which results in him feeling not good enough as a man. Through this approach Old Spice is fundamentally telling the young man that he does not look as good as he wishes he did, he does not live a lifestyle as exciting as he desires, and is not as masculine as expected. While each of these attributes are unattainable for the young man, there is one item that is within his reach that could help to replace the qualities that he now feels he is lacking. That item is Old Spice men’s hygiene products.