Evidently, to be a man, you must drive a pickup truck (or motorcycle), eat at BBQ joints, go fishing, do your own home improvement, watch a lot of pro sports and auto racing, subscribe to sports and men’s magazines, and eat a lot of “salty snacks”.
At least according to Sperling’s Best Places, Weber Shandwick, and Mars Chocolate.
I try to keep an eye on media items that relate to men and masculinity in the media, but I missed this one: America’s Manliest Cities, a campaign this summer from a Mars Chocolate subsidiary selling junk food (errm, I mean a cheese-food salty snack product) which rates cities in America based on (their own) criteria for manliness.
And it’s such bullshit.
Here are Mars/Combos/Sperling’s criteria for manliness:
- Sports: In addition to the number of professional major league sports teams in a city (football, baseball, basketball and hockey), the number of nearby NASCAR tracks and racing events was taken into account along with the quality of pro sports, based on ESPN’s “Ultimate Standings” fan survey. // Seriously? Wouldn’t the number of men who actually PLAY sports count higher than the couch potato man?
- Manly Lifestyle: Various consumer behaviors in each city were analyzed, such as the number of pickups and motorcycles registered in the city, sports TV viewing, fishing and home improvement. // Key word here: Consumer. If you buy a lot of shit, you’re more manly?
- Concentration of Manly Retail Stores: The number of manly stores and businesses were evaluated for each city, including BBQ and chicken wing restaurants, steak houses, sports bars, Harley Davidson dealerships and home improvement stores. // Eat out a lot, buy lots of toys and stuff. Yeah, that’s soooo manly. With this logic , you can be a man by just covering your dinner table with Table Throws of Nascar or of beef jerky.
- Manly Magazine Subscriptions: The percentage of households subscribing to manly publications were analyzed. Examples of manly publications include Sports Illustrated, Car & Driver, Maxim, Playboy, Men’s Health, Popular Mechanics, Boating, etc. // Maybe they mean manly men don’t know how to get the same content for free, online, or at the library. Sheesh. Buying magazines is like throwing away money. Ergo, manly men throw away money?
- Manly Occupations: The number of construction workers, police officers, firefighters, and EMT personnel in each city were analyzed, using the “Occupational Employment Statistics” survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. // OK, I’ll go along with this one, if I could figure out if it’s total number in the city, or per capita. Men who put their bodies on the line at work everyday definitely get manliness points.
- Salty Snack Sales: Total sales for the “Salty Snack/Cracker” retail category were measured for each city. Combos is a product in this business category. // Men who buy the products they’re selling are more manly. Or are they saying that manly men eat these because they don’t know how to take care of themselves in the kitchen? I know some pretty manly old guys who’d laugh their asses off at you for thinking these types of food are manly (cheese-food and crackers in a tube? Sheesh).
They listed one manly “Kryptonite” Category / Emasculating Criteria – Cities lost points based on factors that reduced a city’s manliness rating:
- Concentration of Retail Stores: The number of home furnishing and décor stores, cafés/coffee shops, sushi restaurants and “modern” male apparel stores was analyzed in each city and cities with higher concentrations of these stores lost rating points. // This might be the most ridiculous one yet. In my mind, a true manly man is so sure of himself that he has no problem patronizing these stores himself if need be – and that need might be for himself, while accompanying a friend or to purchase a gift for someone. I guess they’re saying that these types of stores are scary and intimidating and emasculating to men, but I’m wondering about the manliness factor of a man who thinks that way…
I’m not that kind of manly man.
It took me a long time to be able to figure out that I already was a man, that I wasn’t going to get any outward sign or external validation of it, and since then it’s been a heck of a journey to actually accept it and speak it and act in that way.
So when I see or hear of these types of advertising campaigns, I’m pretty insulted, and even if I did eat the types of so-called “food” that Mars manufactures (note, I didn’t say made or prepared or baked or anything that might imply that actual food is involved), I sure as hell wouldn’t buy any of it now.
How long will PR firms, ad agencies, and companies continue to perpetuate the type of gender stereotyping that isn’t even funny (it’s just stupid)? There must be a bunch of freakin’ marketing snake oil salesmen just waiting in line for the next opportunity to make money by convincing men that the way to be a manly man is to buy more crap. We’re all considered dead inside, so why not?
The hell with that. If they hired me, I wouldn’t tell them what they want to hear, which is “This is great, this will totally work.” I’d be saying, “What, are you daft or something? What the hell is wrong with you?”. Then they could pay me all the money they’ll save by not spending it on those types of campaigns.
Because they’re obviously so deep in their own BS that they can’t smell the stink.[Check out the ridiculously lame “Manly Guy Test” at Sperling’s, and you can read the whole release on the Mars website. And then see how they market Combos to men: “The meal that’s not a meal”.]
Image: One From RM at Flickr