Back in November of 2011, People magazine released their 2011 list of “Sexiest Men Alive.” Being that this is one of the only magazines I have here at school (not to mention that it is my favorite issue of the year), I frequently thumb through it. I stereotype People as being a woman’s magazine being that it mainly focuses on celebrity gossip and trends. When reading through it recently I noticed that a lot of the advertisements were not focused on sexualizing women as they typically do, but they were sexualizing men! I found this to be quite interesting because many of the ads I found were selling products featuring just the man’s face and not his body.
The first two ads that I found particularly interesting were for men’s fragrances. Bleu de Chanel and Aqua di Gio. The Bleu de Chanel ad features a nighttime cityscape as the background; the foreground features an attractive man in what appears to be a suit with his face partially shadowed as he looks off at angle. Then there is also a cut out of the fragrance bottle in the corner and in small print on top of the man’s chest it says “Be unexpected.” I think the narrative that this ad is creating is that this is a sophisticated, spontaneous, metropolitan man. Not only does he seem to embody these qualities, but as mentioned earlier he is very attractive. The Acqua di Gio ad is in black and white and features another attractive man, this time he is shirtless, staring into the camera somewhat expressionless. Then it also has a cut out of the fragrance bottle and across the top it says “Acqua Di Gio for men.” The story behind this ad that I envision is that this is a successful and physically fit man is on the beach looking good and possibly smelling good. It is very common to use sex appeal and snob appeal in order to sell fragrances. The techniques used are used to get consumers to think, “If I use that fragrance, I too will be a sophisticated, spontaneous, worldly man,” or “a physically good looking man on the beach.” The stereotypes perpetuated by this ad are along those lines. They use attractive people that are sharply dressed or not dressed at all in order to sell products. Another thing that I noticed is that this man is Caucasian, which can perpetuate the stereotype that only Caucasians are sophisticated, attractive or can display the qualities shown in this ad.
The third ad that caught my eye was for Reebok. This ad features their winner of the 2011 Reebok CrossFit Games. It shows a man(the winner) shirtless, holding himself up using gymnastic rings. Above him in bold letters it says ‘Fit is SEXY;’ the word sexy is in red while the rest of the words are white. Off to the right it has 3 paragraphs introducing this man and how he won the competition and below it in red it says Reebok. This ad seems to use the plain folks pitch as well as sex appeal. By reading the information, you can find out that this man is and Assistant Strength coach and a certified CrossFit instructor. This gives the idea that he is just an ordinary man that was able to get the title of “Fittest Man on Earth” by using the Reebok CrossFit program.
A fourth ad was for Allstate. I almost didn’t realize that this was an ad because of the way it was done. Along with the theme and layout of the magazine being the ‘Sexiest Men Alive,’ Allstate created their ad based on this premise. There are a series of commercials that Allstate does feature a man who represents mayhem and does things that could happen and cause you to need/want insurance. In this ad it feature the same actor that is in the serious against a plain colored backdrop (like most of the Sexiest Men Alive photos) and is shot like a serious photo shoot. The ‘Sexiest Men Alive’ introductions usually say the man’s name and then some information about him or something cute and clever. Next to the picture of this man it says “Mayhem Sexiest GPS Alive,” and underneath it says “He might not know where he’s going, but we still want to ask for directions. Recalculating? Yes, please!” This clever way of getting this ad in here also uses sex appeal. Saying that he is the ‘Sexiest GPS’ alive is ridiculous and is sexualizing an object. Sexualizing objects can be seen in many ads nowadays which perpetuates the idea that it doesn’t matter what you do as long as you’re attractive.
The final ad is for Smart Water featuring actor, Idris Elba. This ad is in black and white and shows Elba sitting on the floor leaning against a couch with a Smart Water in his hand. He is wearing black pants, a light colored shirt, and is sitting on a light colored floor and leaning against a light colored couch. There is also a newspaper on the floor. The only color in this ad is from the blue label on the Smart Water in his hand. The use of light colors in this ad could be representing purity and the newspaper could show that the company is globally aware of current events. Seeing that Smart Water is said to promote healthy living and hydrating responsibly, trying to come across as being pure or aware of current events would be consistent with that image. The idea that just because you have a newspaper makes you aware of the world around you and that you are wearing lighter colors makes you pure are the main focus of this advertisement.
The theme of these ads are that men are being objectified as sexual objects in order to sell a product. The fact that this was the People magazine’s ‘Sexiest Men Alive’ issue made these ads sexualizing men even more apparent. Knowing that the majority of the buyers of this particular magazine would be women ogling at the men, these companies used this to their advantage. The sexualizing of men often used sex appeal or snob appeal in order to sell their products.