Masculinity in Crisis: Superbowl Ads Reveal Changing Gender Identities

The Superbowl has long been one of man’s last havens of masculinity–beer in hand, buddies, football, munchies. It was simple: man in his element. Pure masculinity. This was the last fortress to call his own. Yet, the commercials in this year’s Superbowl lineup seem to show otherwise. Even here, in the bastion of masculinity, utter gender confusion and questions surrounding what it means to “be a man” are surfacing. While there were the usual and expected sexy and fun ads by Bud Light and Coke, this year saw an infusion of another breed of ads aimed at “modern man”, whomever that may be. A brief look at four commercials and their commentary on changing male roles and expectations, reveals an opportunity for brands to step in and help define what masculinity means for men of the new millennium. Enter the metrosexual. Women may love them, other man may raise their unibrow at them, but, no matter the reaction, we are seeing an undeniable rise of the metrosexual. The fact that we see ads speaking to this new metrosexual (a breed of heterosexual man concerned with his physical appearance and in touch with his emotions in a way that may have been questioned in the past) appear in the Superbowl is testament to just how large this target audience has become. Dove Men’s line is a great example of a metrosexual commercial. It is aimed at the growing number of men tossing aside the traditional signifiers of masculinity (ie, the two second shower and simple hair toss back) in favor of beauty regimes formerly aimed exclusively at women. Men, such as this growing number of metrosexuals, no longer use those products abandoned in the shower by their significant other. They proactively find products that suit their individual needs. Branding implication: There is huge potential for brands in the health and beauty category to extend their reach to men, and not just a small niche audience of “metrosexuals” but really a huge audience of men who are taking control of their own physical wellbeing and are “feeling comfortable in their own skin”. Now add that to the list along with “be good at sports”, “be strong”, “lift weights” and...

To read more about Superbowl ads, go to Sparxoo, a digital marketing, branding and business development blog.

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