Habits of impeccably groomed male beauty ads

You may or may not be aware but later this month, on 21st August 2020, it’s ‘Men’s Grooming Day’. With the male beauty market consistently on the rise, including in terms of advertising spend, it’s certainly an emerging area – but, from taking care not to exploit insecurities to not advertising ‘Brotox’ to the public, the same rules and principles relevant to all cosmetics ads apply.  

Here are some key points to bear in mind when advertising in this sector.

Never trivialise or exploit insecurities

When talking about “objectification” or societal pressure in the beauty industry, you might immediately imagine an Instagram-ready female influencer – however, the societal pressure on men to look a certain way is perhaps more intense than it’s ever been.  Just like those aimed at women, it’s vital that marketers ensure that all ads for beauty treatments or surgeries aimed at men do not take advantage of or exploit insecurities.  

Furthermore, marketers should be wary of trivialising surgery or invasive cosmetic intervention in their advertising – see our guidance on social responsibility in terms of cosmetic treatments for more on this.  

Be ever mindful of body image

Speaking of body image, the ASA has carried out a significant amount of work in relation to gender stereotyping in ads.  Whilst the research found lots of criticism for the way women are portrayed (attractiveness and sexuality being key), the findings about men in ads was more nuanced.  

The research suggested that whilst thinness and facial attractiveness wasn’t necessarily something that ads portrayed as desirable for men, ads tended to focus on body ideals, and generally tend to project a perfect, toned, muscly torso as an ideal.  The research also made note of the pressure that some men (including teenage boys) felt to look a certain way.  

Marketers should therefore be mindful of potential harm that might be caused to the body image of people of any gender, not just women.  Take a look at our advice on body image for more on this topic.

Beware the “Brotox”

In terms of invasive treatments or surgeries, most of the ASA’s rulings have focused on surgeries such as labiaplasty or breast augmentation.  However, according to the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, whilst the number of men opting for traditional plastic surgery is decreasing, the number looking for non-surgical treatments is on the rise.  One such example is the anti-wrinkle treatment using ‘botulinum toxin’, which in some places - especially for the male market - has been dubbed “Brotox”.

We have extensive guidance and FAQs on the prohibitions around promoting Botox (and other Prescription-Only Medicines (POMs) generally) and marketers are reminded that even including the name “Brotox” is likely to be considered an implied ad for Botox, and would therefore break rule 12.12.

‘Manscape’ your marketing

Whilst there’s currently a lack of complaints, and therefore ASA precedent, in this area - with the increasing popularity of such products this is unlikely to be the case for long.  Those looking to make beauty and grooming ads for men should be mindful of advertising responsibly, and ensuring that their ads do nothing to exploit any underlying insecurities.

If you’re unsure whether your non-broadcast marketing is along the right lines, feel free to make use of our Copy Advice team, who are always happy to help.

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