By now you’ve probably seen that hilarious Old Spice commercial that features ex-football player Isaiah Mustafa going from his shower to a yacht to the back of a horse in one swift motion. In it, he tells ladies that their man might not look like him but that they could smell like him if they ditched their girlie body wash and switched to Old Spice. How could a commercial that’s based entirely on gender stereotypes be so wildly successful? Let’s investigate.
The exaggeration of stereotypes is part of what makes this commercial so brilliant. Even those who have a problem with masculinity being defined as the opposite of femininity find it charming.
It challenges conventional thinking
While most commercials tend to drive a wedge into the distinction between what is deemed appropriate expressions of manhood and womanhood (Docker’s Wear the Pants commercial comes to mind), Old Spice came up with a better approach. They ridiculed both men (“Sadly, your man isn’t me. But if he stopped using lady scented body wash he could smell like me”) and women (“It’s an oyster with two tickets to that thing you love”).
It doesn’t take itself seriously
The commercial is lighthearted. It’s fun. Because it doesn’t take itself seriously, the viewer doesn’t take it’s gender stereotyping seriously. It’s so outrageous yet playful with its sexism that it actually calls your attention to how ridiculous gender stereotyping is. Genius.
It’s a win-win
On one hand, the Old Spice manmercial implies that men must be manly men in order to attract women. On the other hand, it perpetuates the idea that women should only prefer manly men. It then goes on to suggest, in the end, that even the unmanly men somehow manage to have girlfriends. Double Genius.
He’s on a horse
If you only learn one thing from this commercial, it should be this: The quality of just about anything can be drastically improved by doing it on a horse.