If there’s one thing the American male does not have enough of, it’s places to watch sporting matches and gossip over the latest stock market news. The full dude experience reaches far, sure, but it doesn’t reach far enough, which is why a new plus-size retailer is hoping to change the game for men who’ve been wandering in the wilderness of big-and-tall stores for so many years.
Okay, it's not a wilderness, exactly — men's big and tall stores have been around for some time — but the advertising landscape, which focuses only big and buff dudes and not, say, guys who looks like the average overweight adult male (sounds familiar), is due for a reality check. According to the New York Times, Destination XL has honed its message to men of prodigious height and girth with a new ad campaign featuring XL dudes that are built less like offensive linemen and more like men who watch offensive linemen on television. The New York ad agency Gotham has created a commercial for Destination XL that goes something like this:
In the commercial, several men wander in various states of undress in a barren desert, where clothes hang sparingly on a few racks. A bearish naked man, his groin blurred by pixelization, models a pair of gloves triumphantly and says, “Finally, something in my size!”
Another actor wearing a tie but no shirt yells, “Hey, look at Tom, he found an entire outfit.” Tom, however, turns out to be squeezed into an unfortunate ensemble with contrasting plaids.
“Stop shopping in no man’s land,” says a voice-over. “There’s a better way for bigger men to find clothes. Destination XL — big on being better.”
The new campaign is reported to have cost an estimated $12 million, and comes as part of pretty significant overhaul with Destination XL’s parent company, Destination XL Group (which also owns Casual Male XL). Ads are being targeted at what the company calls “end of the rack” shoppers, those men with waists ranging from 42 to 46 inches. Moreover, to appeal to those larger-waisted shoppers, Destination XL has expanded its dressing rooms and improved the stores’ user experience:
To appeal to bigger male shoppers, aisles at Destination XL stores are wider and dressing rooms bigger. The stores also aim to be more upscale, with hardwood floors, track lighting, free bottled water, on-site tailors, and televisions tuned to sports and financial programming.
That all sounds, well, nice. The only hitch so far is that Destination XL has had some trouble convincing networks to run its ad because of the pixelation and the implication that behind the pixelation totters a phallus, eager to sniff out some great deals on new trousers. None of the major networks agreed to run the commercial, and basic cable stations are more or less split, with networks like SyFy and USA agreeing that a little pixelated dick never hurt anyone, and ESPN and Comedy Central requiring a pair of undies between viewers’ eyes and XL American cock. This wariness to run an ad featuring a heftier gentlemen raised the eyebrows of Destination XL chief executive, David Levin, who told the Times,
I’m watching prime-time television and seeing parts pixelated out every day. I don’t understand why we’re being called out on this thing — if this were a hunk of a guy, would there be the same problem?
Ah, Mr. Levin! Welcome to the impossible aesthetic standards of American pop culture, where people are quietly (and not so quietly) judged for their ability to approximate the physique of an Olympian.
An End to Scrounging for Plus-Sized Clothing [NY Times]
Image via AP, Stephan Savoia