April 10th, 2015

Can machismo sell anything – even incontinence? Creative Excellence Fridays

Tena Men guyNever underestimate the size of a man’s machismo. Yes, in spite of a man’s shortcomings in “other” areas, his machismo stays in tact. And like the fictional leprechaun or unicorn, a man’s machismo is generally much larger than the sum of its’ parts.

So when Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO were tasked with creating awareness for an adult incontinence product, they fired up the chainsaws, shiny mid-life-crisis cars and ridiculously appealing models to bring it home.

Machismo advertising has been around since the first caveman bragged about the size of his club. So this is nothing new. And in advertising this is old hat. The difference is, today’s machismo comes with a wink and a smile and tongue firmly planted in cheek.

2009 saw the introduction of the most interesting man in the world. This was cleverly constructed and the writing was so over the top you couldn’t help but share it.


Then along came a tired brand, Old Spice. It was the after shave I would buy for my grandfather for Christmas as a kid. They needed a brand reboot and got it from Isaiah Mustafa. A former NFL player revitalized a brand with some very clever effects and some pretty impressive comedy acting chops.

Then along comes Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO Grumpy Sleepy and Bashful. Okay the dwarfs were added to make a point about agency names that read like a phone book or were penned by Don Draper, but that’s a blog for another day. The goal? Create the elusive “internet meme”. Today, it’s all about sharing. Mustafa’s video has 50 million hits; Dos Equis guy? Countless more. They definitely go down as unqualified successes. So when AMVBBDO built their machismo man in the ad labs, they borrowed liberally from both camps. But they also borrowed from history. Remember Don Adams and Maxwell Smart ? He was the anti hero. Good things happened in spite of him, not because of him. And this is how Stewart Gravitas rolls.

In the real world, Stewart would get punched in the face. But in the world of over the top machismo he’s a legend.

Is Stewart a hit? Four weeks into the launch of the program, the lead video had only has 165,000 views. I think the ads are fun and well produced.  They’re perhaps not quite as share-friendly as after-shave or beer because of the product itself, but it’s a gallant attempt by (take a deep breath before attempting to say out loud) Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO.

About The Author

Tim McLarty owns video & web boutique Ontrack Communications, helping companies tell their stories through broadcast, social media & responsive web. In his spare time he makes short films and dreams of the day when there will be play-off hockey in Toronto.