Any good advertiser these days is aware of the intimate tie between heartstrings and purse strings, which is why Dove is trying to get men to buy their deodorant or whatever with a new ad in which women hand their partners positive pregnancy tests. Everyone cries excitedly. Piano music soars. This is getting to be too much, man.
Here’s the ad, via Mashable (and yes, we’re aware Dove doesn’t care how much we shit on this thing, as long as it makes it in front of your eyeballs):
It’s wonderful that these men are excited and even brought to tears about becoming fathers, or, as your bodywash-purveyor puts it, “Care makes a man stronger.” So excited they’re not icked out about handling a urine-soaked plastic stick. So excited, I guess, that they decided to give permission for a private, joyous moment to be monetized and shared with the soap-buying public. (Or are these all staged videos based on the popular “finding out he’s going to be a dad” section of YouTube?)
Pandering to men is just the latest iteration in the emotional branding model of selling you stuff, the same mouthbreathing cousin to the Upworthy-style fauxspirational #content that’s been clogging up your Facebook feed since 2012 or so. Advertisers, depending on how you look at it, have gotten really great at “creating an emotional connection” with their consumers, or, to put it another way, crawling right up in your lizard brain and punching you repeatedly in the tear ducts in order to sell you an anti-stink bar.
And just like every other Dove ad, this one is deeply gendered and as bland as possible — there are no non-heterosexual couples, for example, and nothing that might offend an ad agency’s conception of Middle America. (Correction: a two-second shot of men hugging at the 34-second mark.) The whole point is that caring about becoming a father makes a man “strong,” just like every woman feels ugly and worthless and will cry when you trick her into thinking she’s prettier with help from Dove.
It’s great. I think it’s great. We’re all neat and tidy and we smell like sodium lauroyl isethionate, and when our children are born, God willing, we’ll slather them in Dove too, all over their tiny, future consumer bodies, until they’re old enough to be pandered to with yet another ad about how your soap is the only thing keeping you from being scaly, unsightly and unlovable. Dove is all that’s keeping us feel beautiful and “empowered,” the thin, lightly-moisturizing barrier preventing us from veering off the hygiene cliff and dying alone in a ghastly ravine of perspiration-soaked tissues.
Never stop, Dove. Keep piling on the treacle until we can float away in it, to some soundless, lightless place where there’s no TV or Internet connection or ads about soap.