A Critical Analysis

In the last forty years, the image of the typical male has changed dramatically. In the sixties/seventies the media appealed to a less sophisticated audience. Generally aimed at the working class the male had a breadwinner image, earning and living for the family. The class system was significant in its simplicity, unlike our time where the class system seems to have disappeared. During the nineties men had a laddish culture and image. The idea of ‘men behaving badly’ and doing what they want was often portrayed in the media.

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In present day we are moving away from the laddish culture, but it is still there. The ‘new age’ man of today is seen as sensitive, family orientated and successful. The idea that men have to be physically strong and attractive is also still there. All through time the male has seen to be strong but in today’s materialistic and sophisticated world, looks are becoming more and more important – and so is image.

However, the audience in present day has become much broader and the media have compensated for this. Men are now portrayed very badly in some cases. They are seen as weak, vacillating and disloyal following base instincts. Good examples of this are women’s magazines and soap operas where men have very few redeeming features. Although, it must be remembered that the majority of audiences, both in terms of soap operas and magazines, are women. Advertisements are another area in which men are depicted in a bad light. They are usually seen as stupid and ineffectual, and are the object of female ridicule and scorn.

But is the image the media portrays an accurate model of the man of the millennium? I will now go on to analysing two Guinness adverts, the first one was made and circulated in 1960. Class was far more significant in the 1960s that it is now and this ad is aimed at the working class. I have reached this conclusion from analysing the clothes, which seem quite ordinary and the fact he’s bending a metal girder, which would suggest he works in a factory of some sort. It is aimed at an adult male audience, thus the idea of a hard days work and Guinness.

There are media devices used that date the advertisement. The structure is simple and ordered. The use of the iron bar in quite a simple way suggests strength – if you drink Guinness. The imagery in the ad is very simple when compared to adverts in present day, which tend to be more ponderous. The lettering is big, bold and unsophisticated. In fact the advert itself is unsophisticated but this is probably deliberate. The market in the 1960s was considerably less sophisticated than it is now and less educated. Therefore the designer of the advert would have to convey the message Guinness wanted to get across while being sympathetic to the market of the time.

The fact that it is aimed at a class dates the ad to pre Thatcher years. In our day the audience is much broader and products aren’t limited to just one class and it is arguable as to whether classes exist anymore. Men in the 1960s would aspire to be like the man in the advert, to be a breadwinner who exists to earn a wage for the family, as this was the image the male had. The idea was that men would come home, put their feet up and unwind after a hard day at work, hopefully with a pint of Guinness in their hand.

However in the last 40 years the male market has changed significantly, and Guinness has compensated for this by changing its image of the typical male with what’s accepted at the time. During the 1990s the consumer power of the 30 – 40 year olds became apparent and the idea of ‘men behaving badly’ was often shown in the media and in Guinness too as is shown by “Dancing” Joe Mckinney adverts. I will now analyse a Guinness advert made in 1994. The advert is far more complex in terms of style and structure than the 1960s advert; even the font used for the slogan is more complicated. It is very informal and there is no order to where things are placed. The clothes that Joe wears are informal too, and there is no hint of it being aimed at a particular class. It shows Joe dancing about, looking as though he’s having a good time and a laugh.

The slogan suggests that there’s nothing better than to drink Guinness and be merry. Drinking Guinness is something to look forward to; relaxation and socialising have become serious pastimes. The advert is aimed males in their 20s and 30s, you can partly tell this by looking at Joe and the fact that the advert is clearly aimed at the ‘men behaving badly’ culture which affects men in their 20s and 30s the most. The audience for the advert is much broader than it was in 1960; it is no longer restricted by class or peoples backgrounds. In fact the only thing that restricts the adverts audience is that it’s aimed at males.