Right at this moment, quietly doing battle on our televisions are two commercials vying for the much coveted title of ‘Most Obnoxious Ad Campaign.’ That’s right, it’s time for Geico’s ‘Cavemen’ to pass the torch, there’s a new insufferable sheriff in town. The first contender is for “male enhancement pill” Enzyte, featuring “Bob,” he of the glassy-eyed, maniacal grin that presumably is supposed to suggest delight at his ability to maintain boners but looks more like someone’s gone at his skull with a 2×4. Enzyte’s ad campaign has relied entirely on not very subtle dick jokes involving the use of strategically placed golf clubs and sausages on forks, which I suppose is necessary since the company is prohibited from explaining the purpose of Enzyte in specific, adult terms. However, a new zenith in ickiness has been reached with its new seasonal ad, in which “Bob” is dressed as Santa Claus. While his wife, who wears an equally vapid grin reminiscent of that of members of the Heaven’s Gate cult, holds a sign reading NORTH POLE pointing in his direction, “Bob” is visited not by children, but by a hoard of sexy girls who hungrily eye his crotch. The narrator makes a bunch of Beavis & Butthead-level puns about “chubby Santa” and his “sack full of pride,” while we try to figure out what exactly makes this Joker-faced jackass so irresistible to women.
Nevertheless, “Bob” and his amazing wang are left in the dust by the bizarre, downright creepy new ad from Axe. Axe, the body spray for men fabulously described on a message board as “the only scent strong enough to cover the smell of douche,” has long sold itself on the notion that it has a powerful effect on women. In fact, it turns them into panting, groping sex fiends, which is precisely what happens to me whenever I’m near a man who’s marinated himself in something that can be bought at Walgreen’s for five bucks. You don’t have to have a good personality or even be particularly cute, just spray yourself from head to toe in cheap, shitty aerosol cologne and the babes will be dropping their panties in no time. It makes light of sexual harassment, suggesting that being violently accosted by women on the street and in nightclubs is desirable to men. We can only hope it doesn’t get any more profoundly disturbing than the ad for the latest scent in their line, ‘Dark Temptation.’
It’s hard to decide at which point the commercial goes from merely unsettling to nightmarish. Is it when he’s melting his forearm into a fondue pot and serving it to women, all of whom are carrying on like they’re auditioning for Cum Guzzling Cheerleaders Vol. 8, or is it when he’s standing on a bus and a woman leans over and takes a bite out of his ass? It’s sort of like asking which Hillside Strangler was the worse killer, does it really matter? I’ve seen complaints of racist undertones in the ad, where skanky white women are overcome with desire for the big “Chocolate Man,” but I think the real issue is that it’s supposed to be saucy and clever to portray men as the hunted rather than the hunter. If, say, Lush or Bath and Body Works put out an ad campaign showing women being dragged into bathroom stalls by men who can’t resist the smell of gingerbread body wash, there’d be rioting in the streets, and rightfully so. Yet somehow it’s funny to show a man being fought over and grabbed at like a pair of pants on the clearance table at Barney’s. I can only assume that the campaign was created by a bunch of sixteen year-olds who don’t have a whole lot of experience with real women, so it’s difficult to say if there’s an underlying message to these ads. One would like to think if there is it’s “Hey, guys, how do you like being treated like a piece of meat?” However, given the frat boy consumer bracket Axe aims its products at, it’s more likely “You whores aren’t any better than we are.”