Sociological Images have found a marketing campaign by a household decorating company, which aims to attract men to more ‘girly’ colours, by giving them ‘manly’ names.
So this ‘plum escape’ becomes ‘sucker punch’ and ‘bone white’ becomes ‘beer foam’. The saleswoman in the video shows men and women the same colours but with the contrasting ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ names, and it does seem as if the men react better to the ‘masculine’ ones. Sociological Images, whose analysis on gender I usually find awful, do make one decent point. That these ‘manly paints’ seem to be marketed to women as much as men, (the video is called ‘Ladies, for the love of men..’) with the emphasis on women persuading their blokes to use girly colours , with the manipulative use of ‘manly’ names, as if men are ‘under the thumb’ and not very bright.
This is a clear case for Mark Simpsons’s Fag Up Campaign. He points out how in America, advertising aimed at men focusses on ‘manning up’ a variety of products, from coca cola, to nachos, to cupcakes:
‘In the UK the notion of ‘manly cupcakes’ and a ‘Butch Bakery’ ‘would be a Little Britain sketch. While compiling a list of our ‘manliest cities’ could only be a Monty Python sketch. But in the US it’s a serious business’.
However I differ slightly from Mr Simpson in my conclusions. He tends to suggest that these ‘manly strap ons’ are imposed on men consumers by ‘mendacious marketeers’. I see his point, but I think men’s ‘metro anxiety’ and their tendency to seek comfort in the myth of authentic retrosexual masculinity runs deep.
As the paint video shows, men react to ‘manly’ paint names and ‘girly’ paint names in specific ways, without any prompt from the saleswoman.
I also disagree with Simpson that this retrosexual backlash only happens in The USA. I think there are plenty of examples of it in Europe. For example this Philips ad (Philips is a Dutch company) which presents an iron as a manly power tool :
Personally I think everyone needs to Fag UP! And soon.