Watching: A Synopsis of masculine identity, courtesy of Dove.

I understand this advertisement for Dove cosmetics first aired at the Superbowl – a great forum for discussion of masculine identity, but this one didn’t get the same sort of coverage as some of the more overtly problematic ones.

I’m not sure what I think of this ad, I think it’s deliberately ambiguous, allowing for multiple readings to better appeal to a broader range of consumers. On balance I don’t think I like the message in this ad, but it does not grossly offend me like so many ads, and the production is slick enough that I think it can get away with it.

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6 Comments on “Watching: A Synopsis of masculine identity, courtesy of Dove.”

  1. Ladypants Says:

    Think bad things about this ad please as Dove test on animals, unrepentantly so.

  2. laurenamelia88 Says:

    I’ve just come across this blog while researching for an essay on masculinity and this post caught my eye.

    It’s strange, we have a shorter version of that ad here in Britain, with slightly different words and an English voice speaking them.

    I find the whole thing amusing though, as a desperate attempt to attract the heterosexual male to cosmetics. “DoveMen+Care”, as if the “+” makes it somehow less feminine. I suppose it does in a backwards kind of way. I also like the Gillette advert that uses the words “Prepare before, shield during and refuel after”. Such manly words!

    I wish I could remember which superbowl ad did leave me feeling rather offended, as a female. There was a car in it, I remember that much. I watched them on the internet, as obviously they weren’t broadcast over here.

    But anyway, great blog! Thank you for creating it. I shall be following, as it it highly relevant to my interests!

  3. Margo S. Says:

    I am a public health policy researcher/analyst with a particular interest in masculinity & men’s health. I think this ad is brilliant. It celebrates men in an amusing and positive way and, yes, it’s very well produced. Health promotion material should be half this good. I’d love to know if males do find it offensive and, if so, why. Advertising by its very nature is going to be offensive in that it ‘targets’ us in an attempt to get us to buy what they are selling. But the message here is, ‘We understand what it means to be a man. We understand what you go through in your life. And we know that you have reached the stage at which you are ready for this product.’


    • I guess what I object to is that the ad, like so many, proscribes what masculinity should be. And my issue is really quite a meta level problem, as this example is particularly nuanced. In real world, everyday terms I’m fine with it, but I wish we didn’t have ads like this in nongendered queer utopia world.

      And re finding out what men find offensive (or not) about this ad, I’d be happy to help, by putting something here. Send me an email if this is something that would be useful.


  4. Huh.

    I definitely can see a reading of this ad as a criticism of Imposed Ideas Of Maleness — the early parts are all about a boy and a man ‘failing’ to live up to what he is told he *should* be, leaving it open for the (male) viewer to say “yeah, these proscribed gender roles kind of suck for me”. What makes it less problematic than some of the other Super Bowl ads to me is that there’s an implication that it’s Society and possibly Dad (with the youth images, at least) that’s imposing these troublesome rules, rather than Mom/Girlfriend/Wife/Those Uppity Women imposing the rules. The conclusion is a bit too complicit in That’s The Way It is To Be A MAN for it to be terribly subversive, but it’s an interesting premise, at least.

    So, yes, proscribed gender roles, ick, but maybe a hint of deconstruction too?


  5. […] in March (about here) I posted a video of a dove commercial that aired at the Superbowl. I was a little on the fence […]


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