Marketing by Masculinizing the Feminine

This post originally appeared at Sociological Images, reprinted with permission.

Elliott J. sent in a comic by Kris Straub, who posts at chainsawsuit, making fun of the way that marketers often try to masculinize products that are associated with women, making them safe for men to consume. After reading the comic, I thought it would be fun to have a round-up of examples of masculinizing the feminine — that is, attempting to sell items to men through repackaging and renaming, drawing on ridiculous stereotypes of masculinity to assure men that they can use these products without becoming girly.

To start off, how might you sell nail polish to men? Call the brand Alphanail and associate the product with sex and warfare, of course, with, as submitter Gabriella says, “women as props and men as warriors”:

Clémentine C. noticed that Canova, a British company that sells candles, has a line of candles specifically for men, identifiable by the manly images and scents. While the other candles are given names like sweet pea or watermelon, the men’s versions have more detailed names, with allusions to “bringing out the dog in you,” “the sweet smell of success,” and “a splash of motor oil.”

The Cassis & Fig with Added Danger candle includes a silhouette of a woman behind a martini glass, reminiscent of a stripper pole.

Jennifer W., Kirstie McC., Savannah G., Kristina K., Dmitriy T.M., and Scott C. informed us that CIL Paints, a Canadian company, is trying to masculinize paint colors. The website provides men with a range of colors for their “ultimate man caves.” Scott saw this ad for the line in Toronto’s Metro back in September:

What makes these colors masculine? A simple name change. The website helpfully translates the “real” names of their paints into man-speak:

According to a video created as part of the ad campaign, a quick name change instantaneously changes men’s perceptions, making them compliant with women’s wishes (“The colour she wants with a name he’ll agree to”):

Indeed, the central message is that men are incredibly stupid and easily duped; women just have to manipulate them a bit:

Now we’ve got the house painted; it’s time for some chores! Anjan G. let us know that appliance company Philips designed an iron just for men:

The man-friendly features on this “robust power tool for ironing,” described on the Philips website as the “Anodilium soleplate man iron,” include “more power, more steam, more performance” to give you “an endless excellent gliding experience.”

Now, let’s say that you’ve just ironed all your clothes with your ironing power tool, and now you want a little rest. Hmmm, you might think, I’d like a nice warm beverage, but I don’t want to appear girly. Thanks to Elisabeth M., we discovered that has an answer for you, with their goal of making tea safe for men:

…most of the specialty teas out there have stuff like rosehips and lemon zest in them (what the hell is “zest” anyway?) and they are packaged and merchandised to appeal to women. What guy is going to pick up a box of Cozy Sleepytime Tea with a pajama’d teddy bear on it? Not this guy.

At least three different varieties of their teas are bacon-flavored. And to make sure every element of your tea-consuming experience is sufficiently manly, you can steep your tea is this manly T-Baggin Tea Bag:

And finally, along with your tea, perhaps you’d like some healthy cereal, but you’re worried that health foods are associated with women. Well, don’t worry; Tesco sells Chunky Muesli, a “cereal for men.” It’s made safe for men with construction-zone packaging:

Thanks to Sophie K. for sending us the photo!

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