If You’re Not Going to Complain Like a Man…
Why promote a product without saying anything about the product itself? It’s a wide-spread tactic, so it must be working, but why is it done? In most instances it is because the product is either virtually bereft of redeeming qualities, abused by the demographic being targeted, or essentially identical to competing products. The message of these commercials is, basically, as long as you become more masculine in one (minor) respect, it’s okay to remain emasculated in every other. Instead of dealing with a lack of masculinity, buy Barbasol and feel like that constitutes dealing with it. Because Barbasol is, at present, more or less identical to competing products, this is all the company can do to meet short-term sales goals.
It is tempting to think that what the company is doing with these ads is drawing attention to the very real problem of the emasculation of American culture (without having to risk being accused of political activism). If this is true, the company’s desire to see that problem solved is understandable. There is a direct connection between the long-term profitability of large companies and how self-confident (how “masculine”) a country’s citizens are. Moral relativism breeds passivity in men (if for no other reason than a fear of being called close-minded or patriarchal or Eurocentric or “fascist”, etc), and as a result political leaders who are inimical to business and industry receive or maintain power. However, even if that was Barbasol’s motivation for producing these ads, in the way explained above, the laws of human psychology dictate that these ads will only prolong or worsen the problem.
If a company as large as Barbasol truly felt that the state of the culture is so dire as to warrant it becoming directly involved with political activism – if it felt that that was in it’s best interest (as opposed to simply doing whatever it can – no matter how immoral – to make a profit) – then such oblique and nebulous political activism would be considered fruitless. Much more drastic measures would be seen as necessary. With that in mind, the proper interpretation of this series of advertisements is that it is yet another example (well documented elsewhere on this blog) of a cynical, desperate, short-term oriented company employing sophisticated psychological manipulation techniques on the public in order to profit right now.
If Barbasol is not going to “complain like a man”, it should at least “advertise like a man.”