Deodorant and Desire

Photo: Old Spice

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The commercials during this year’s Super Bowl were mostly dull and forgettable (and the pro-life ad from Focus on the Family, which we blogged about, turned out to be mild, ambiguous, and even kind of funny). Many of them were passingly creative attempts to capitalize on some pop cultural flavor of the moment like Auto-Tune. Rest assured, however, some ad agencies are still making advertisements that raise the quick sell to a form of compelling, self-aware folk art.

Yes! I’m using a lot of descriptive words, and I’m using them to write about “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like,” a new ad from Old Spice with which I’ve become obsessed. The ad is a fast-talking, absurdist shell game (“Look at your man. Now back to me. Now back at your man. Now back to me.” “Look down—back up. Where are you?” “What’s in your hand? Back at me.” “Look again!”). It parodies the huckster’s art of distracting and disorienting the mark, and takes place in a psychological landscape where objects of desire (ripped, shirtless hunks, tickets to “that thing you like,” diamonds) and settings (bathrooms, boats, beaches) have no permanence—fundamentally changeable elements in the illusory universe of want. Also, the guy in it is really hot. Just watch:  


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