“Men don’t want to look at naked men”

JBS Underwear ran a 2006 advertising campaign with the tagline, “Men don’t want to look at naked men.”  The commercial (found here) and a series of print advertisement feature slender, topless females modeling the male underwear line.  The models are engaging in “typical” male behavior, from shaving their faces to suiting up for football.  JBS is selling male underwear to men.  Women are not the target audience for the commercial; nor are they the target consumers for the product.  JBS is transparent in the purpose of using females in their commercials: they serve as a ploy to attract the gaze and attention of the targeted male viewer.  As Berger describes, there is a long history in art (and advertising) of women as an object to be looked at; as he says, “men act and women appear. Men look at women,” (38).  This situation places women in a passive position, in which the mere presence of a woman’s body is enough to sell anything, including a product that is not expected to be used by her.  In addition, JBS’s tagline and setting for the advertisement explicitly defines heteronormative male behavior.  The tagline includes a non-subtle judgment on male sexual desire and what they should “want to look at,” namely not other men.  JBS expects its male viewers and potential consumers to relate to everything that is presented in the commercial, short of the long blond hair and breasts of the model.  The latter features, on the other hand, serve to draw these viewers in.  Ultimately, the advertisement serves against the company’s interest; by using women to depict narrow definitions of male behavior and male sexual desire, the commercial alienates potential consumers whose behaviors do not reflect these definitions.

References

Berger, John. 1972. From “Ways of Seeing.”

JBS Underwear. 2006. “Men don’t want to look at naked men.” http://adsoftheworld.com/media/tv/jbs_mens_underwear_no_naked_man

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