Men, make-up and marketing

I’m always amused by the way in which firms sell things to men, particularly the cosmetics industry: for example, in the world of razors you have the Mach 3, the M3 POWER, the Mach 3 Turbo and the Wilkinson Sword Quattro. Strangely many of the terms used are from the motor industry: Quattro is the four-wheel drive system on the niftier Audis, turbo is short for turbocharger, the device that boosts the power of a car’s engine and so on. Weird. The packaging is interesting, too: razors in high-tech silver, or Xbox black and green, or Ferrari red. The message is unmistakeable: “I am a MAAAAAAAAN! Der der der der der!”

How, then, to sell make-up to men? King of Shaves thinks it has the answer with its XCD range (“exceed”. Geddit?), which promises to “Enhance. Camouflage. Defend.” The products are given names such as Defender, Reviver, Perfecter, Primer and Mad Shagger. Well, maybe not that last one.

The product information sheets are hilarious; for example, the blurb for Primer – stuff to make shaving less painful – starts off: “Prime: the time when something is at its best. And gentlemen, this is it.” But it’s the various moisturisers and lotions that have the best advertising blurb. Defender isn’t girlie moisturiser; no, it’s “The first line of defence in the war against ageing.” Tinted moisturiser is “your secret weapon”.

War. Defence. Weapons. Brilliant.

Unfortunately, just as the blurb’s getting somewhere with a fairly sensible message – “if you look like crap, put stuff on and you’ll look less crap” – the copywriter blows it. Having successfully turned your face from a blotchy, sweaty, hungover mess into something vaguely human-looking, you’ll find that “women won’t be able to keep their hands off your face – and neither will you!”

Oh dear oh dear oh dear. That one sentence has ruined the effect of all the preceding blurb, and created the mental image of a bloke sitting in a nightclub, stroking his own face. Trust me, you’re not going to pull supermodels (or anybody) if you do that; narcissism is a deeply unattractive trait, and you’re more likely to get beaten up than chatted up.