The Marlboro Man is wearing Spanx
Spanx, for the uninitiated, is a line of slimming lingerie. Got a body part that’s a little bumpier or bulgier than you’d like? Chances are, Spanx makes a product to smooth it over. Spanx have long been one of Oprah’s “Favorite Things” and celebrities rave about them. Okay, female celebrities rave about them. But we have yet to hear Brad Pitt or Robert Pattinson admit that their physique is aided and abetted by supportive undergarments. Because most fans, we’re guessing, don’t want to know that Brad Pitt is wearing Manx (seriously, that’s the name of the version for men). It’s perfectly acceptable for women to gab, conspiratorially, about what comes between them and their Calvins. but men are supposed to find all that stuff “girly,” right up there with diet soda and gossip magazines. For the record, let it be stated that we have no idea if Brad Pitt has ever worn Manx. We’re just talking hypothetically here.
And hence the marketing dilemma for Spanx when it comes to their male products. Dr. Pepper got around a similar issue by joking that their new diet soda (men are renowned for avoiding the word diet) is “not for women.” But how do you convince men that they should be just as insecure about their bodies as women? Actually, scratch that. We’re pretty sure there are plenty of men who are just as insecure about their bodies as women. Rather, how do you convince men that it’s socially acceptable to spend money on a product -and then wear said product – that sculpts and defines their un-sculpted and ill-defined body?
Answer: You make him feel like a superhero! That’s right, because when Superman wears a leotard it’s not girly, right? Superman can even get away with wearing a cape, few chrissakes. So the Manx packaging features a superhero named Blake who says manly things like “Game on.” Also, don’t call your product a “girdle,” call it a “performance undershirt.” And tell men that the shirt “supports the back,” which, as everyone knows, is code for “sucks in the gut.”
“Men’s psyches are different than women’s,” said Laurie Ann Goldman, Spanx CEO. “Men want to feel powerful and strong. Women want to feel smart and choice-ful.” Which, as everyone knows, is code for, “We’re all suckers.”