Is Hunkvertising or Objectifying Male Bodies in Ads Wrong?

Image via Kraft.

Image via Kraft.

Does objectification of male bodies matter less than that of any other gender?

It seems an odd case to make, but that question is being earnestly debated among advertising critics as companies continue to use alluring men (or more specifically, their bodies) to bring attention to products that have nothing to do with attaining good looks or a shapely physique. The ongoing trend has a new name—dubbed “Hunkvertising” by Adweek, and industry professionals seem to be split on whether this form of objectification is fundamentally different from that of, for example, attractive women wearing bikinis in a beer commercial.

One of the best recent examples is the campaign for Kraft’s Zesty Italian salad dressing, which portrays model Anderson Davis lays naked, barely covered by a picnic blanket and also as a shirtless chef using the phrase “Let’s Get Zesty.” The Choose Them All campaign by Renuzit Scent does the same in personifying each of their brand’s air fresheners through a different, good-looking man.

Lisa Wade, associate professor of sociology at Occidental College, called it a “gender-reversal joke” in Adweek.

Steve O’Connell of Red Tettemer O’Connell + Partners (who worked with Renuzit on a similar campaign) looks at it in much the same way. “Objectifying men doesn’t really upset anybody,” he said. “You really can’t offend the white male.”

Do you agree? Let us know in the comments.


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