Michael Buerk might find some succour in a new book, The Future of Men, which says that men are tiring of their portrayal in adverts. You know the sort of thing: James Nesbitt buys a load of computer kit but it takes a small girl to point out that you have to turn it on.
Sadly, this level of ineptitude does not make you adorably hopeless. It just makes you a useless cunt.
These weren’t the exact words used by Marian Salzman, a commentator who for once has worked in the industry she’s writing about, but she does say that male foibles, as portrayed in adverts, are clichéd and outdated. She could have gone a bit further. While it’s tiresome to see male characters in adverts who don’t resemble anyone you know, what’s perhaps worse is the absolute reliance of advertising on its own regurgitated clichés.
In fact, you start to wonder if there’s some sort of copywriter’s bible…
THE COPYWRITER’S GUIDE TO REAL LIFE
1. Men are obsessed with sex but will forego sex in order to watch football or drink beer.
2. Women are locked in a constant battle with their weight/body shape/hairstyle.
3. Career success is entirely based on your ability to impress your boss.
4. Mums are often harassed but NEVER depressed/unable to cope.
5. Any act of male stupidity (e.g. walking across a clean floor in muddy boots, putting the dog in the dishwasher, etc.) will be met with a wry smile, not genuine annoyance/anger.
6. Married men will flirt with other, younger women but NEVER act upon it.
7. Anyone with a scientific career will have a crap haircut and dreadful clothes.
8. If you work for the emergency services, you are a better person than the general population.
9. Elderly relatives NEVER suffer from senile dementia.
10. Scandinavians are, without exception, blonde and beautiful.
11. Women have jobs they never do in real life, e.g. dockworker (who looks like a model).
12. Children will not eat fruit or vegetables. Ever.
13. Both men and women find driving deeply pleasurable, never boring or stressful.
14. Men are inherently lazy/slobbish; women are the reverse.
15. Chocolate, however, will cause women to immediately fall into the languor of the opium eater.
16. High street bank staff are (A) friends of the customers, and (B) of slightly above-average attractiveness (only if female).
17. Modern men own a cat.
18. Hot beverages have miraculous rejuvenating effects.
19. Professional people have strangely trivial preoccupations, e.g. a female barrister who is morbidly obsessed with finding a healthy snack bar.
20. All women (except stay-at-home housewives) have interesting and enjoyable careers.
21. Any over-the-counter medical product will work instantly and 100 per cent effectively, e.g. Lemsip will immediately remove all symptoms of colds and flu.
22. Children know more than adults.
23. Women never merely hop in and out of the shower, instead preferring to act out some sort of soapy Dance of the Seven Veils.
24. School is a happy experience for all children.
25. Tortilla chips are the most exciting experience any group of young people can experience.
26. Playing bingo is THE number one pastime among 18-25 year old British women
Of course, like most clichés, there’s a certain element of truth in some of these. If lots of women weren’t constantly trying to diet, there wouldn’t be much point in flogging SlimFast, miracle diets and crap like soap that claims to firm/tone. Likewise if no men ever stayed out all night with the lads, pissing off their partner in the process, ads based on this theme would be bewilderingly incomprehensible to most people.
And we’ve all meet individuals who are far worse than any advertising cliché. Women who really do think they’re ‘having it all’, because they’ve got a lowly job in marketing (and won’t shut the fuck up about it), or men who are unpleasantly sexist lager louts, rather than the happy-go-lucky lads of most beer commercials.
But Salzman’s point is that the portrayal of men as inept, lazy, slobbish, ruled by their penises, etc. is outdated because men are, basically, getting a bit nicer and less blokeish. Unfortunately Salzman betrays her roots in advertising by claiming the existence of the ‘ubersexual’ - a more sophisticated male who is masculine and confident but stylish and in touch with his feminine traits.
In other words, inventing yet another stereotype, ripe for regurgitation by her colleagues in adland.