This is going to come as a giant shock to brands and ad agencies alike but the majority of people do not choose products based on a brand’s opinion on a current topic.
And neither do the men in this campaign for Eos. because when the Yuppy pastiche comes out in all his Rob Lowe hair-flipping 1980's glory and asks "You want a shave cream for bros” (a word no one except people who work in advertising use) the customer responds with "I just want a good product."
Five years after Gillette's heavy-handed lecture on what it means to be a man landed with a polarizing splash Eos is now asking men to Unmanhandle their face. I’m not sure what “Unmanhandle” means but since I am a man, the act of shaving with my hands means I am man handling my face every couple of days. But let’s not let messy semantics get in the way.
Let’s instead focus on the fact that Eos has decided their competitor isn’t a competitor at all but Patrick Bateman: a fictional character from an early 2000’s movie based on a novel written in the early 90’s that took place in the late 1980’s.
Patrick feels like such a man (presumably by using Eos’ unnamed competitors) that he can fight a gorilla. A gorilla who, judging by the voice over, happens to be female. So that brings an unexpected domestic abuse vibe to it I was not anticipating.
The other spot in this campaign leans into male stereotypes even harder including that all too toxic trait of…wanting to smell nice. Gee, I hope Eos doesn’t ever hear about cologne.
So the overarching message is twofold:
Men shouldn't choose products based on scent. And they shouldn’t choose overly masculine or stereotypically masculine or toxically masculine products. Do those even still exist? Not in the shaving category to my knowledge. Duke Cannon? Nope. Axe? They're now partnering with Lil Baby to rap about the smell of their products, so maybe that's a bad thing? Edge Shave Gel just posts product photos on its Facebook page. Old school brands like Barbasol's "Can of Can-Do" touts the benefits of giving you a close shave. Other youth-oriented brands like Dr. Squatch sometimes veers into juvenile territory since it resonates with their demographic. But for every “don’t smell like the soap your mom picked for you”, commercial they post tons more content that touts their organic ingredients, unboxing videos, collabs with Star Wars and the like. Their influencer game is strong and everyone in their ads seems happy.
What really strikes me is that no one is happy in this Eos campaign. I get that the bogeyman character is supposed to be a dick. But the hero guy just looks sad and wants to be left alone. In this sense, he represents consumers in general. Even the woman who hands him the product and reads from the brief sounds like she pities him.
Also, what does 24-hour hydration mean? They don’t explain of course, but at least they only left us with one benefit rather than three. I am unaware of any shaving cream that doesn’t moisturize one’s face.
Then again, this is grocery store shaving cream. Since there is no difference between Eos and any other brand on the shelf, it’s a parity product.
And now that there are so-called right-leaning products like Jeremy’s Razors carving out a “woke” alternative (whatever that means) the landscape is getting even more crowded.
The only thing all brands care about is getting your money. And they’ll do whatever it takes to get it. Including manipulating your feelings, shaming you, telling you you aren’t a real man if you don’t buy our products, or telling you that real men don’t buy our competitor’s products.
In other words, advertising gonna advertise.
It’s cynical. It’s formulaic. And it smells.
I thought some of the second ads copy was pretty funny, like "smells like cinnamon, and throwing coins at poor people", as it was so over the top. "Smells like Varnish" - ha, one of those forbidden scents!