Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Mantrol and Manghurt?

One of the great traditions of New Zealand advertising is that no portrayal of masculinity can be too over-the-top or too ridiculous to sell beer.

However, recently beer's place as the pinnacle of ridiculous masculinity by some products which are less deeply ingrained in NZ's idea of manhood - such as Yoghurt. Yes the same dairy product that made Sarah Haskins famous:

Ok now we've had that break for the awesomeness that is Sarah Haskins we have to go back to this bizarre new development in New Zealand which is manly yoghurt. What is manly yoghurt, well it's thick, packed with nuts and seeds and comes in flavours such as Apricot Manuka Honey, Mango Coconut Flakes, Lemon Passionfruit, and Apple Blueberry.

So how do you sell the idea that the official food of woman in apricot and manuka honey flavour is manly? Silly question - all you need is to emphasise misogyny, homophobia and the extreme danger of girl germs. This is from their website:


Man. It used to be the best job title in the world.

Man has lost his place in the world and his place in the fridge. There are scarce few products we can call our own. At Mammouth Supply Company, we've decided to do something about this and offer men something for men - non-nonsense, fill-you-up yoghurt, iced cofee and ice cream.
The boxes come with simple instructions about what men do and don't do - they do eat yoghurt but only manly yoghurt, but stay away from all things that might ever have been coded women or gay (although I do recommend reading the packages at the supermarket - they're even more ridiculous than you can imagine).

I find this deeply weird. I can guess the origins of these products. Fonterra was sitting round worrying about what to do with all its milk and thought "Men! We need to get men to consume more milk derived products." But does this really resonate? Who could it possibly resonate with? Do people suddenly forget that apricot honey is a body lotion flavour if there's enough homophobia on the packet?

And that's not even the strangest form of masculinity advertising products let me introduce mantrol:



There's also two shorter versions that makes it even clearer that according to some arms of the state New Zealand masculinity is about pakeha well-resourced homo-social leisure time.

I honestly don't understand these ads (but I am sometimes very slow about some aspects of NZ masculinity - I used to often have to have tui billboards explained to me). Is the point supposed to be MANLY THINGS! MANLY THINGS! MANLY THINGS! MANLY THINGS! DRIVING SAFELY IS ALSO MANLY BECAUSE IT'S IN THE AD WITH THESE OTHER MANLY THINGS! STOP KILLING PEOPLE!

I'd understand that. Even if I don't really understand the association between BBQ, cricket, video games, and not killing people, I can see NZTA's point. I'm sure they have many many statistics that show that the demographic they're targetting (I'm guessing it's young pakeha men) are dangerous drivers, and probably they've reached the time when they want address it head on.

But then there's this line: "If we're not in full control of such a manly thing [as driving] then what does this all mean? [and he gestures to many different depictions of homosocial leisure]"

And at that point I stop being amused, or weirded out, or confused, and become angry. That a government agency would spend millions of dollars reinforcing the idea that to be manly is to be in control sickens me. As if that idea wasn't deeply ingrained enough. As if it wasn't understood by so many women who have been at the receiving end of men's control.

That's the problem - each piece may not seem like much. Portrayals of masculinity can seem ridiculous and insignificant - it's just an ad, just a piece of packaging, just a beer company. But each piece normalises an idea of what it means to be a man that is so damaging for men and women and for men who conform to it and for men who don't. And those who want to use it to sell their products seem to be winning over those who want to tear it down.

29 comments:

katy said...

The first time I saw one of the Mantrol billboards I was in the provinces and I thought it was a product of the place and snickered for the provinciality. I stopped laughing when I saw it in the urban setting.

A Nonny Moose said...

When I first saw a Mantrol billboard...I was driving. And my first thought was "But...women drive too!" I know that I wasn't the targeted demographic, but the inference is that men should be in control of the car ergo in control of everything.

There seems to be this pervading Wink Nudge approach to sexism in NZ advertising lately - it's so openly sexist and mocking of that sexism, that it couldn't POSSIBLY be sexist. That whole "it's only a joke, right?" idea.

But no. Joking about it is not deconstructing harmful sexist tropes. It's only reinforcing.

I mean really. "Man" yoghurt? "Man" ice cream? (I've seen that one too) Being in "Man"trol? Has advertising devolved back to the 1950s?

Alison said...

Hmm, when I saw the Mantrol billboard I sort of thought it was a subversion of the idea that masculine men drive fast - sort of an attempt to turn a dangerous stereotype on its head. I haven't watched the video, as I'm at work, but does that undermine that idea?

I think there is such a pervasive idea that "real" men are good drivers and therefore can and should drive fast, so I rather liked that they are trying to appeal to men who are attracted by that stereotype and get them to think about it another way.

Obviously women drive too, but men are over-represented amongst drivers responsible for accidents (albeit partly because there's such an overwhelming tendency for men to do the driving when hetero couples travel together).

The man yoghurt is just bizarre, and yet another case of commercial interests creating a false dichotomy between men and women for the sake of selling extra, unnecessary products. I've also been sickened recently by the Ranfurly beer ads. On in central Wellington reads "A group of men is called a pub". Well done Ranfurly - successfully excluding women who drink, and men who don't. Tui billboards have reverted to machoism too, after being quite political and witty in the past.

Kevin said...

As a guy driving around auckland, the first time I saw these billboards I thought it was some kind of weird Destiny church (substitute for any equivalent misogynistic fringe group) advertisement or suchlike.

What is this "Mantrol" that suddenly appeared out of nowhere? Most of the billboards have little or nothing to "limit" the extent of this bizarre inference-laden neologism to driving, and even if they did, why is driving suddenly a manly task?

I see a horrifying possibility of the concept of "mantrol" being picked up by the "stop child abuse" campaigners - "horrifying" because of the huge amounts of abuse that are/have been the direct result of excessive "Mantrol".

It's a weird weird concept, made even weirder and scarier by the simultaneous appearance of similar "manly" products and tv shows. Do we really think the misogynistic elements of society that take every opportunity to attack "outrageous" or "radical" feminism and the "demasculinisation of men" will ignore this opportunity to bemoan the state of "the modern man"? I think not...

Ally said...

Thank you for this post! My God I am irritated by both of these terrible campaigns. My freezer is full of the Mammouth Ice-Cream because my flatmate was given a whole pile for free, and I am trying to eat it as quickly as possible so I no longer have to read slogans like 'A real man doesn't pay another man to mow his lawn' when I go to get the frozen peas.

Mikaere Curtis said...

1. Sarah Haskins is AWESOME !

2. Totally agree with you about the Mammouth Supply Company. While I think it is OK to appeal to masculine traits (such as using rustic packaging imagery), there is absolutely no need to use sexist stereotypes.

3. I disagree about the Mantrol ads. They are really effective, and I get the humour. It's not about controlling other people, its about controlling your leisure time. The activities I was able to take in are typically about controlling something (e.g. space invader machines, gutting a fish, doing a spitroast). A lot of guys like this kind of stuff, and I don't see any problem with it.

The message is not "stop killing", the message is "drive in control". And I think that is a fantastic message to get through to young men, and the ad does so by linking positive driving with positive leisure activities. Indeed, it points out that if you kill yourself (and your mates) by bad driving, you can't do any of that cool stuff.

Sure, some of those things are for those who have money, but there was definitely a hunting activity in there - and Hunting Aotearoa is (IIRC) the most succesful show on Maori TV;it's not an ad aimed exclusively at pakeha men.

It certainly isn't saying that women don't drive, or that women don't crash. Instead, it targets a particularly problematic group of drivers - bulletproof young men - and sends them a message that they can actually follow.

It's not as if the authoritarian, punitive approach has worked particularly well with this group. Trying something new is a good idea.

A Nonny Moose said...

"Instead, it targets a particularly problematic group of drivers - bulletproof young men - and sends them a message that they can actually follow."

By being gender essentialist and reinforcing masculinity tropes? Because only real men hunt, play/watch sports, gut fish, barbeque, play video games and above all drive a car...and are in control of these activities? Because that's my take away from the ad, and its incredibly insulting to men (who are far more nuanced than that), as well as the women who do these activities.

You might do these things. You might enjoy them. But they are not all that you are as a human being. And you don't do them to be in control of your life.

Mikaere Curtis said...

By being gender essentialist and reinforcing masculinity tropes? Because only real men hunt, play/watch sports, gut fish, barbeque, play video games and above all drive a car...and are in control of these activities?
I don't think it is fair to introduce a "real man" meme to the messaging in the ad. The basic message is about being in control of your car, so it is reasonable to portray these activities as an excecise in being in control.

And wouldn't go so far as to say these images reinforce masculinity tropes. Instead, these are actually fun things to do, and I would expect that members of the target segment would typically be able to find at least one activity in there that they enjoy. Its about linking responsible driving to enjoyable activities.

Indeed, some of them are explicitly about controlling things (space invaders, pool, riding a bike). It meshes nicely with the concept that being in control of your car is good idea.

It's not saying that women don't enjoy these things too, nor does it preclude men from enjoying more "nuanced" pasttimes. It's about getting through to the target segment (who are over-represented in road casualty stats).

You might do these things. You might enjoy them. But they are not all that you are as a human being. And you don't do them to be in control of your life.
The ad does not say that you do these things to be in control of your life. Rather, it builds a narrative that if it is OK to be in control of something fun, like hunting or spitroasting, then it is absolutely essential that you are in control of your car. Otherwise, you'll crash and if you kill yourself and your mates then how can you enjoy all these cool activities ?

You are right, though, I do enjoy some of the activities in the ad, and they are not all of who I am. When was the last you saw any ad that was able to sum up who you are in 30 seconds ? It can't be done, so all an ad can do is connect with you in some way and from there attempt to pursuade you of something.

IMO, this is the best anti-speeding ad I have seen, ever. I hope it has an impact.

Maia said...

I think Alison and Miakere make similar points, and I can see that without some key features of this ad I might agree.

If the add really had just been "MANLY THINGS! MANLY THINGS! MANLY THINGS! MANLY THINGS! DRIVING SAFELY IS ALSO MANLY BECAUSE IT'S IN THE AD WITH THESE OTHER MANLY THINGS! STOP KILLING PEOPLE!" Then I would have rolled my eyes, but probably not written a post on it.

But it wasn't just that. In the add the kind of mandom says "In between these four walls we control everything that happens." (or something like - I can't rewatch the video at the moment) It creates and emphasises a physical world where men control everything. It is in this context that control is mentioned - it is not just about controlling things, but controlling space.

To be honest, I don't think the idea of masculinity and control put forward in this ad make much sense. Because when it comes to driving they appear to be making a slightly different point, which is about knowing what you don't control. The point is not that you control the world, but that you can't control the world and therefore you need to have a margin of error.

But nothing else in the ad is linked to this point - everything else in this add is linked to the idea that men can totally control things and space (and can control women to the extent that they can exclude them from this space that they control).

And not only do I think it's ineffective to use that idea of control to sell a completely different idea of control (although I may be wrong, I'm not the target demographic) - I think that idea of control is damaging.

Miakere - I don't think you need to use the phrase 'real men' to be presenting a picture of normative masculinity. This ad certainly paints a very strong picture of masculinity and does it so in really clear language about men and what men do (and the equally strong implications about the absense of women).

Also I think the idea that what young men do is to be in control of their car isn't quite the intended message of your ad. My experience of young men who have crashes is that they take lots of risks precise because they think they are in control.

The road safety aspect of the ad (although no other part) didn't emphasie controlling your car, but the fact that you couldn't control everything else.

A Nonny Moose said...

"When was the last you saw any ad that was able to sum up who you are in 30 seconds ? It can't be done, so all an ad can do is connect with you in some way and from there attempt to pursuade you of something."

Of course ads can't sum up a person in 30 seconds, and rely on stereotypes, we're not disputing that. What we're disputing is that the over-riding narrative enforced by advertising is of hetero-normative masculinity. Whenever male control/lives are represented, especially NZ males, it's of this white, 18-35, sport mad, beer drinking, video game playing, hunting/fishing, out-of-touch-with-feelings, girl ogling, plaid work shirt wearing bloke.

I can't imagine any man laying claim to ALL of that portrayal, and only a very small percentage of men would be invested in any of those activities/looks, so why do we keep getting this image that to be a REAL man, you have to look like that?

Anonymous said...

If it leads to less deaths what's the problem? (and I do emphasize that if it's a big IF)

Less people dying on roads > Ideology.

- Mr.F

Brett Dale said...

Not a fan of the ad, but they are trying to appeal to the 15-20 something male age group, and they like BS like this.

Hugh said...

It's ironic here - Maia and Nonny, both women, have an optimistic view of New Zealand men and feel they could respond to something outside the usual beers-and-videos straitjacket, while Brett and Mr F, both men, feel that New Zealand men are too stupid and small-minded to respond to any advertisement that doesn't reflect that stupidity and small-mindedness back at them.

"Control" is a difficult thing to pin down in and of itself. Even if we limit ourselves to control as it relates to cisgender men in a patriarchal society, it can be positive, because urging a man to control himself is a way of discouraging him from being violent or abusing others. But it can also be the sort of control that Maia describes, where the man imposes his own values on his environment without considering the values of those who share that environment.

It's hard to know exactly which sense of "control" these advertisements are advocating since, as Maia again points out, lack of control is actually not what causes most car accidents. (Although the focus on drunk-driving that most road safety advocacy has hoved to up till now seems to imply whoever's writing the ads thinks it is a problem).

Personally if I had to try and teach young men the values that would lead to greater road safety, and I shared Brett and Mr F's pessimistic view of the ability of young men to respond to things outside of their pre-existing cultural milieu, I'd talk about teamwork. You could draw a fairly inane but not too inaccurate analogy between a crowded road and some sort of team sport, and encourage men to bring the same values of cooperation and consideration that team sports ideally promote to making sure nobody prangs out when driving home from work.

Of course such a campaign would still probably raise concerns about implying that a man isn't a man unless he engages in teamwork, that there don't appear to be any women on the team, but at least it wouldn't be encouraging the man to dominate his environment the way Maia feels the current ads are.

Brett Dale said...

Uhm the ad is trying to appeal to the boy racer, not the average man.

These are the same people who would love the sexist tui ads.

They dont have to try to appeal to the average man to drive carefully, because the average man does.

ideologicallyimpure said...

I have some sympathy for the "this ad is for Gen Y munters who speed" argument, but unfortunately the logical conclusion of that is that the Mantrol ads are targeting the kinds of Gen Y munters who don't really pay attention to public service ads and are too cynical to buy into ads so obviously trying to "appeal" to them.

Whereas an ad all of 10 seconds long featuring Grant Bowler saying "Don't speed, ya bloody tosser" would be far more successful.

Still ... I'd rather see ludicrous "Mantrol" billboards than those old-school "Hey, girlfriend who is totally in the passenger seat like a good demure women, make sure you police your boyfriend's speed for him!" ones.

Psycho Milt said...

So, the guys who make all those ads in which women love doing all the cooking, cleaning, clothes-washing and childminding, and shake their heads indulgently at all the work the rest of the family thoughtlessly creates for them, now make some ads involving men - and the ads are sexist crap? I'm not feeling a huge element of shock and surprise here...

Mikaere Curtis said...

But it wasn't just that. In the add the kind of mandom says "In between these four walls we control everything that happens." (or something like - I can't rewatch the video at the moment) It creates and emphasises a physical world where men control everything. It is in this context that control is mentioned - it is not just about controlling things, but controlling space.

The key concepts here are irony and contrast. The irony is that, unlike womanspace, mandom does not actually exist. It's called hyperbole, as is the concept that you can control everything between the four walls, although the obviously can control the activities to some extent.

The contrast is with the road conditions when you are driving - and the ad explicitly points out that you can't control the road conditions. But it does say that you do control the car, and that driving the "mantrol" is about controlling the car so that you adjust you driving to the conditions. This is a much better message than "If you speed you will die" because the latter is patently untrue.

This ad certainly paints a very strong picture of masculinity and does it so in really clear language about men and what men do (and the equally strong implications about the absense of women).

Images of men engaging in activity != an exhaustive depiction of masculinity. These activities are popular, and the idea is to generate a positive response to the message by showing a bunch of activities in the hope that members of the target demographic will associate postively with the activity because they already enjoy it, or because they think it is cool. I really think you are over-analysing the intention behind the imagery.

Also I think the idea that what young men do is to be in control of their car isn't quite the intended message of your ad. My experience of young men who have crashes is that they take lots of risks precise because they think they are in control.

And the ad informs them that, unlike all the cool activities in the fictitious mandom, they really need to improve their driving by assessing the risks and taking action. i.e. actually being in control rather than simply assuming they are in control. It's a subtle, yet important message.

And at the end of the ad, a passenger in the care says "you should have pulled back", and the driver replies "I know".

What we're disputing is that the over-riding narrative enforced by advertising is of hetero-normative masculinity. Whenever male control/lives are represented, especially NZ males, it's of this white, 18-35, sport mad, beer drinking, video game playing, hunting/fishing, out-of-touch-with-feelings, girl ogling, plaid work shirt wearing bloke.
Are you sure you aren't adding some elements here ? In the ad I see no beer drinking, no women (and therefore no ogling), no plaid shirts. You can't here them speak, so it's only an assumption that they are out of touch with their feelings. And some of the men are outside the 18-25 age range.

As for sexual orientation, lets see: men-only groups, and definitely a scene with a guy-only group dancing in a disco setting. Sounds gay-friendly to me...

Irony point: that ladder he slides down looks suspiciously like a fire-escape, doesn't it ?

The reality of the situation is that bulletproof young men do not parse messages in the way that feminist bloggers do. This is a strong, effective message to men that I actually think will save lives.

In my life I have buried too many friends and whanau for the consequences of stupid driving decisions. If this campaign saves only one life, then I'll be glad for it.

Mikaere Curtis said...

But it wasn't just that. In the add the kind of mandom says "In between these four walls we control everything that happens." (or something like - I can't rewatch the video at the moment) It creates and emphasises a physical world where men control everything. It is in this context that control is mentioned - it is not just about controlling things, but controlling space.

The key concepts here are irony and contrast. The irony is that, unlike womanspace, mandom does not actually exist. It's called hyperbole, as is the concept that you can control everything between the four walls, although the obviously can control the activities to some extent.

The contrast is with the road conditions when you are driving - and the ad explicitly points out that you can't control the road conditions. But it does say that you do control the car, and that driving the "mantrol" is about controlling the car so that you adjust you driving to the conditions. This is a much better message than "If you speed you will die" because the latter is patently untrue.

This ad certainly paints a very strong picture of masculinity and does it so in really clear language about men and what men do (and the equally strong implications about the absense of women).

Images of men engaging in activity != an exhaustive depiction of masculinity. These activities are popular, and the idea is to generate a positive response to the message by showing a bunch of activities in the hope that members of the target demographic will associate postively with the activity because they already enjoy it, or because they think it is cool. I really think you are over-analysing the intention behind the imagery.

Also I think the idea that what young men do is to be in control of their car isn't quite the intended message of your ad. My experience of young men who have crashes is that they take lots of risks precise because they think they are in control.

And the ad informs them that, unlike all the cool activities in the fictitious mandom, they really need to improve their driving by assessing the risks and taking action. i.e. actually being in control rather than simply assuming they are in control. It's a subtle, yet important message.

And at the end of the ad, a passenger in the care says "you should have pulled back", and the driver replies "I know".

What we're disputing is that the over-riding narrative enforced by advertising is of hetero-normative masculinity. Whenever male control/lives are represented, especially NZ males, it's of this white, 18-35, sport mad, beer drinking, video game playing, hunting/fishing, out-of-touch-with-feelings, girl ogling, plaid work shirt wearing bloke.
Are you sure you aren't adding some elements here ? In the ad I see no beer drinking, no women (and therefore no ogling), no plaid shirts. You can't here them speak, so it's only an assumption that they are out of touch with their feelings. And some of the men are outside the 18-25 age range.

As for sexual orientation, lets see: men-only groups, and definitely a scene with a guy-only group dancing in a disco setting. Sounds gay-friendly to me...

Irony point: that ladder he slides down looks suspiciously like a fire-escape, doesn't it ?

The reality of the situation is that bulletproof young men do not parse messages in the way that feminist bloggers do. This is a strong, effective message to men that I actually think will save lives.

In my life I have buried too many friends and whanau for the consequences of stupid driving decisions. If this campaign saves only one life, then I'll be glad for it.

A Nonny Moose said...

"Uhm the ad is trying to appeal to the boy racer, not the average man."

Gosh, I do so love the age- and class-ism inherent in that statement.

Goodness me, what's this? Your targeted "boy racers" are not in the highest road toll statistics?

In 2010:
55 people aged 15-19,
56 people aged 20-24,
91 people aged 25-39,
85 people aged 40-59,
82 people aged 60+
were killed on NZ roads.

http://www.nzta.govt.nz/resources/road-deaths/toll.html#further

(no segregation for sex)

Even combining the 2 lowest of those age groups, you still get a statistic COMPARABLE to your arbitrary "average person" age group. You can even say that two times MORE people died in road accidents over the age of 25, than under.

So take your arbirtrary classification of the "average man" and stuff it. Your "average" in "control" man is MORE likely to die on NZ roads than your "hoony boy racer".

Anonymous said...

Meh, it's a smart marketing tactic. Most guys are going to think it's a dumb ad, but if 10% of them buy into it, that's a significant market increase right there.

http://www.tampabay.com/news/business/retail/article1105569.ece

Random Lurker said...

"Welcome to Mandom. Most of man's greatest achievements can be found within these walls. We control everything that goes on in here. However, the fate of Mandom is uncertain. There is something we haven't mastered control of yet. It's our driving. We're good, but we're not great. And if we're not in control of such a manly thing we're, then what does all of this mean. Men, we're not 'man-driving'. Man-driving is about realising what we don't control: the road, or the bends hills, corners, rain. It's knowing when to pull back and slow down. It's us staying in control. What we like to control 'man-trol' ("Should've pulled back.. yeah..")"


Quite a lot of men go through life feeling not in control. They are not in control of their jobs, their relationships, or life in general. But they do still defiantly carve out a space in their heads where they can do, and be successful at something - And fantasise mastery of that discipline. In most areas it's quite harmless (at least to others) to overestimate your abilities. But driving isn't one of those areas. Being over confident here can get your car totalled, and your mates killed (and presumably others on the road).

Activities depicted are: Hanging a ceiling fan, playing 80s arcade games, facial hair grooming, lounge cricket, gutting a fish, half-pipe skateboarding, grilling meat, sparing in a meat freezer a la Rocky, falconry (dressed as an English country gentleman), fireman's pole, awkward nightclub dancing, basketball, soccer ball tricks, push ups, cycling, light-sabre practice, golf driving, casually hanging out with mates and listening to music, playing a race driving simulation game, bodyflight (simulated skydiving), pretend skiing, balancing on furniture for no apparent reason, visiting an art/photo gallery (I'm amused by the one guy who doesn't share this interest but is hanging out with his mates regardless), mock play sword 'fighting', talking on the telephone, slacking off and a couple of other things that I can't make out. Apart from possibly the light-sabre guy, everyone is else is clearly quite average, at best, at the things they are doing, or have an inflated sense of their ability (as race car drivers, dancers, sword fighters, Rocky).

In other ads, there is theatrical pro-wrestling, medieval archery, computer/science geekery, martial arts (including an amateur attempting to break wood blocks in half), and making excessive amounts of toast; simply because they worked out a way to, hot-wheels, watching a film in a home cinema with mates, DIY crazy golf, wood sculpting with a chainsaw, building a leading tower of pisa with playing cards in your living room, jousting with a boxing glove on the end of a stick for a lance and tricycles for horses.

The depictions, are not just of hetro-normative masculinity leisure activities - they are ridiculous, fantasy hetero normative leisure activities. All of this is juxtaposed with the cold hard reality of driving. The message is to not make the mistake that just because in your own mind you are Rocky; or a the best computer geek; or awesome at making toast, that you are equally good at driving. There are quite a few elements to driving that you don't have control over, so while it may be just as fun as those other things.. pull back a little.

As a means to male reach drivers with an over-inflated sense of their own ability, this ad seems fine* to me. Except the actual word 'mantrol' - I'm not sure about that. Do you have any ideas for effective ways of getting through that audience?

*I didn't think they needed to describe driving as 'such a manly thing'.

Random Lurker said...

"Welcome to Mandom. Most of man's greatest achievements can be found within these walls. We control everything that goes on in here. However, the fate of Mandom is uncertain. There is something we haven't mastered control of yet. It's our driving. We're good, but we're not great. And if we're not in control of such a manly thing we're, then what does all of this mean. Men, we're not 'man-driving'. Man-driving is about realising what we don't control: the road, or the bends hills, corners, rain. It's knowing when to pull back and slow down. It's us staying in control. What we like to control 'man-trol' ("Should've pulled back.. yeah..")"

Random Lurker said...

Quite a lot of men go through life feeling not in control. They are not in control of their jobs, their relationships, or life in general. But they do still defiantly carve out a space in their heads where they can do, and be successful at something - And fantasise mastery of that discipline. In most areas it's quite harmless (at least to others) to overestimate your abilities. But driving isn't one of those areas. Being over confident here can get your car totalled, and your mates killed (and presumably others on the road).

Activities depicted are: Hanging a ceiling fan, playing 80s arcade games, facial hair grooming, lounge cricket, gutting a fish, half-pipe skateboarding, grilling meat, sparing in a meat freezer a la Rocky, falconry (dressed as an English country gentleman), fireman's pole, awkward nightclub dancing, basketball, soccer ball tricks, push ups, cycling, light-sabre practice, golf driving, casually hanging out with mates and listening to music, playing a race driving simulation game, bodyflight (simulated skydiving), pretend skiing, balancing on furniture for no apparent reason, visiting an art/photo gallery (I'm amused by the one guy who doesn't share this interest but is hanging out with his mates regardless), mock play sword 'fighting', talking on the telephone, slacking off and a couple of other things that I can't make out. Apart from possibly the light-sabre guy, everyone is else is clearly quite average, at best, at the things they are doing, or have an inflated sense of their ability (as race car drivers, dancers, sword fighters, Rocky).

In other ads, there is theatrical pro-wrestling, medieval archery, computer/science geekery, martial arts (including an amateur attempting to break wood blocks in half), and making excessive amounts of toast; simply because they worked out a way to, hot-wheels, watching a film in a home cinema with mates, DIY crazy golf, wood sculpting with a chainsaw, building a leading tower of pisa with playing cards in your living room, jousting with a boxing glove on the end of a stick for a lance and tricycles for horses.

The depictions, are not just of hetro-normative masculinity leisure activities - they are ridiculous, fantasy hetero normative leisure activities. All of this is juxtaposed with the cold hard reality of driving. The message is to not make the mistake that just because in your own mind you are Rocky; or a the best computer geek; or awesome at making toast, that you are equally good at driving. There are quite a few elements to driving that you don't have control over, so while it may be just as fun as those other things.. pull back a little.

As a means to male reach drivers with an over-inflated sense of their own ability, this ad seems fine to me*. Except the actual word 'mantrol' - I'm not sure about that. Do you have any ideas for effective ways of getting through that audience?

*I didn't think it was necessary to describe driving as being 'such a manly thing'.

Random Lurker said...

Apologies for the multiple posts. Blogger game me a 'Request too large' error and I assumed that the comment wasn't posted. Please delete as required. Thanks.

Tui said...

I think the rhetoric about "oh it's only designed to appeal to young men! They like that stuff, too bad, there's nothing we can do about it!" falls apart a little bit when you really tease out the homophobia. I would say there's no distinction between the ways queer people and straight people drive (not among the young men I know, anyway) so why would ads like these specifically set out to exclude part of their target market?

I think it's particularly inexcusable when you're talking about marketing icecream. "Men can put sunscreen on each other - as long as it's painful!" Because men who enjoy looking at and touching other men *can't be real men*. What an awesome message - to our young men of all sexualities. Sure, it's tongue in cheek, but there's an underlying message to me.

Brett Dale said...

A Nonny Moose"

Colour me suprised with those stats about road deaths in New Zealand.

stephen said...

Tui: last year I visited Hanmer Springs. One of the sad but funny things was all the young men with a bright red patch in the middle of their upper backs. Can't ask you mate to rub sunscreen on the bit you can't reach. That would be gay.

Scott said...

Ah yes, women telling us out loud what men should think about, while other men stating that most males are too dumb and definitely anti gay to "get it"

Helen said...

My 13 year old boy's a great eater sometimes - he loves to get a bowl of thick Greek-style full fat (plain) yoghurt (Farmer's union here in Aust, what's the best in NZ?) He drizzles some honey on there and cuts up an apple or pear to put over the top. I think he's extremely manly!

I was going to play the Haskins vid as I love the Haskins, then I thought I'll wait until he's out of the room because I don't want ideas like Yoghurt having girl germs put into his head. (Don't get me started on the whole girl germs phenomenon!)