THE AGE OF HUNKVERTISING

Amit Sethiya, Chief Marketing Officer, Syska Group talks about how advertising today objectifies men and how consumers are reacting to it

31 Dec, 2018 by AMIT SETHIYA

In all honesty, can men really be the subject of objectification? The general public views men as ‘handsome’ or ‘smart’, but let’s look deeper.

We have all viewed the stars of the screen with a little desire. IMDB rates men on their sex appeal, starting out with the impeccable Humphrey Bogart, Cary Grant, Tom Cruise; the men portraying James Bond have always been the epitome of suave and sexy. In Bollywood, we’ve grown from the demure Rajesh Khanna and Vinod Khanna, to the Khans and Kapoors, and the recent chocolate boys. In advertising, models have always relied on the ‘handsome’ or hotness quotient – Milind Soman still reigns.

Where faces sold earlier, it is sculpted bodies that sell now. The new term is Distraction Ads, where the subject is so alluring that it could possibly pose a threat to safety. These ads all rely on the ‘wow’ factor that leads to stronger recall, and hopefully higher sales. The share-of-mindspace should be higher than the share-of-voice. Jo dikhta hai, woh bikta hai - the hope and direction of every advertiser.

The traditional thought of every marketer had been to use women as objects of desire. The public wanted to see pleasant faces (and bodies). Male products had women as their ad’s subject, commanding SOV.

With men being the new norm in ads, would they be shown as dumb and pasty, or as the new term goes, is this the age of ‘hunkvertising’? Old Spice now has men leading the desire and on horseback! But it is time to stop putting emotionless men in our ads. The average man in Indian commercials is either shown in the garb of the provider or portrayed as dumb – think Amazon Alexa, in the ‘Capital of Australia’ commercial. So are men okay with being objectified?

The Telegraph report survey of 998 men aged over 16, found that 26% of men think men are sexualised as much as women in ads, whilst 22% say men are ‘too stereotyped’.

India does not have any statistics. We want to see familiar faces as the main stars in ads for just about every product, from state tourism advertising and retail stores, to air conditioners, FMCG and more.

Form-defined chiselled looks are the future. Fitness rules! Designers at Fashion Weeks want square jaws and sharp lines on their male models. Male models are more often made to walk the ramp in outfits that show off sculpted abs. And while we are on the case of bare chests, the grooming trend is for men to shave off hair - chest, back, pits, even legs. Beards are making up for the lack of hair elsewhere on the body. Google Akshay Kumar’s overgrown chest hair, to now the clean, smooth, sculpted chest. Body hair is out!

With men taking care of themselves and being more body-conscious, the view that women will try and gain the man’s attention is leading the case of objectification. The tables are being turned with men being the object of desire.

Is it healthy? Is it true? Is advertising and marketing just portraying our innermost quests? Are we accept this? Or is it just that we are men! We need attention! And we don’t want to work hard for it.

Feedback: amit.sethiya@sskgroup.in Category: Backbeat Volume No: 15 Issue No: 30

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