We should have known not to let the charming man on the horse get our hopes up. The Old Spice commercial did come from the same shop, Wieden + Kennedy, as the Dodge Charger ad. And now we've seen this.
Yes, we heard Isaiah Mustafa say that men should stop using "lady-scented body wash" in the first ad. But we preferred to think that was an ironic send-up, just as the entire ad lampoons the absurd claims of the beauty and grooming industry — its implicit claim that buying whatever means you can go on a fantasy sail or horseback ride with Mustafa, and drip with diamonds and get tickets to that thing you like. Or live in a world where the most reductive and sexist tropes are mocked, not perpetuated.
"Had I know they were the ad agency, I would have sent them flowers for Valentine's Day, with my thanks for making a commercial that mocks so well other gender offensive commercials," wrote one of our commenters, one of many praising the "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like."
Hold that order. "Manmercials"? Hairy chests and breaking things and crushing cupcakes in the name of asserting one's cowed masculinity? "Smell Like A Man, Man!"? Gentlemen, you have officially missed the point.
Among the reasons the "I'm on a horse" ad quickly became a viral sensation — a clever script, some surreal transitions, Mustafa's magnetism — had to be the fact that women could enjoy it without feeling like we were participating in our own diminishment. You could deduce something, too, from the fact that none of the ads that portrayed women as universally and maliciously standing in the way of man's true liberation (through tires, a Dodge Charger, hand-held television) were particularly popular. We are, after all, watching TV and on the Internet too.
But wait, I don't have to tell this to Wieden + Kennedy. In the behind the scenes video Latoya posted last week, the two (male) copywriters behind the original ad talked about their goal of appealing to both men and women, since women buy a lot of toiletries for men.
Of course, research suggests that women are also actively involved in the purchase of a car, but that didn't stop Wieden + Kennedy from trying to play on some mythical male subjugation or battle of the sexes, positioning the allegedly dick-swinging Charger as the remedy.
We've been in touch with the crew at Wieden + Kennedy about setting up an interview, either with the Old Spice team or with one of their top executives, Susan Hoffman, to talk about their thinking on these spots. We hope they come through and are taking suggestions for questions should that happen. For now, we're sticking with MacKenzie Fegan's take.
Earlier: Sexy! — And He's On A Horse! The Guy From The Old Spice Commercial
"I Will See Paul Blart, Mall Cop — Twice": A Woman's Response To The Dodge Charger Ad
Does Sexism Sell With Super Bowl Commercials? Not Really
The Woes Of Bros: Super Bowl Ads Star Pathetic Men — And The Women Who Ruined Them