The Guy’s Manual-Powered by Grape Nuts

28 03 2009

Post Cereal’s Grape Nuts has recently released a new ad campaign specifically targeting men.  The main part of the design is a 50-episode web series entitled “The Guy’s Manual.”  The campaign features Kenny Mayne, the host from ESPN’s “Mayne Street.”  The website is debuting with 14 episodes, but will be expanded to include 50 episodes in the next eight months.  The campaign will also include post, radio, and banner ads.

The tagline for the ad campaign is “..because when you tackle something tough at home, at work, or at play…that doesn’t just take know-how.  That takes Grape Nuts.”  Episodes include “Landing a Date with the Cute Girl at the Office,” “Taking Apart Your ’65 GTO to Teach Your Son how an Engine Works,” “Throwing Back the Biggest One You’ve Ever Caught,” “Taking Your Fiancee’s Poodle for a Morning Jog,” “Looking Cool Driving a Minivan,” and “Going Bald Like a Man.”  

The series is co-produced by MSN, OgilvyEntertainment, and Reveille.  “We are excited to collaborate with Post and Ogilvy on a fun and innovative new show that connects with guys where they live—online,” said Howard T. Owens, managing director of Reveille (an independent TV studio) as quoted on EarthTimes.org.

Sexism in advertising is extremely prevalent, not only against women but against men as well.  Men are expected to be “manly:” to be physically strong, unemotional, heterosexual, tech savvy, risk-taking, and sexually confident.  Here’s why “The Guy’s Manual” is problematic.  Much in the same way that the Frito-Lay “A Woman’s World” campaign discussed in feminist2’s previous post reinforces cultural definitions of ideal femininity, “The Guy’s Manual” reinforces stereotypes of heterocentric “tough” masculinity.

The website includes a great deal of information on subjects such as camping, sports, exercise, relationships, automobiles, and technology.  Most of the tips are catered to men who are stereotypically “masculine.”  All of the men appear to be heterosexual, and thus the relationship tips are geared towards heterosexual relationships.  The women pictured in these scenarios are stereotypically feminine and often annoyingly high maintenance.  And the men are often desperate to prove their manhood, even in potentially “emasculating” situations such as walking a girlfriend’s poodle.

There are some things I like about the site.  The tips include advice about families and fathering, and the marketing strategy pretty effectively makes use of the internet to educate and engage viewers.  The site is fun to visit and provides a ton of episodes and articles.  And even though the site has little to do with Grape Nuts cereal besides asserting over and over that tackling anything tough somehow requires Grape Nuts, the purple background and constant references to Grape Nuts Cereal actually did make me really crave Grape Nuts.  And I’m a woman…go figure.

But men shouldn’t have cultural ideals of masculinity shoved at them any more than women should be constantly told to conform to the feminine ideal.  So…is Grape Nuts’ new ad campaign savvy advertising or an insultingly narrow definition of what it means to be a man?  Maybe it’s a little bit of both.  What do you think?


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