Much like Clarke's Law for Girls' Toys presumes that the girls are more interested in the fantasy and magic aspect of their toys (instead of the technological aspect) than boys, this trope places similar assumptions on the preferences of adult males and females and markets them accordingly. Unfortunately, that means digging up the old gender-specific stereotypes, even if they've been discredited elsewhere; apparently, "equal opportunity" hasn't caught on in the commercial world.
As usual, in the world of advertising, there's usually at least some degree of Truth in Television.
If the product is marketed for guys, you'll usually see the men in it:
Be chauvinistic or utterly clueless about anything pertaining to women.
Eat meat. Lots of it. In the event that that they are eating salad, it is because their doctor/wife/girlfriend makes them, and they are very vocal about telling you this. And apparently yogurt is literally invisible.
And shopping. Women love shopping so very much they will get up at 4 a.m. to stand in front of a store to be the first person to get 10% off something (let's just go with the assumption that it's not Black Friday).
See sex as a means to the end of becoming mothers (or manipulating men), or have no interest in sex (and therefore need to be persuaded into it by men in some way, often by them "proving" themselves worthy by bringing home a chicken sandwich or somesuch — that is, unless it's an ad for a birth control pill.), particularly by being interested in the romance and not the sex (such as wanting to snuggle). And yes, of course they all want to be mothers! And good ones, too, which is why the product is so important!
Always be on a diet, always for cosmetic rather than health reasons. View food in a bizarrely moralistic manner, considering herself "good" for eating healthily (almost invariably yogurt) and "naughty", "decadent", and "sinful" for eating chocolate. Or she's bloated. Watch any television program aimed at women - it will have at least three ads detailing how you can be less 'bloated', either by pills or a drink.
Obsessed with appearance, either her own or that of any product (pretty cars rather than fast ones, for example).
In 'comedy' ads, the woman is the Closer to EarthStraight Man of the relationship, while the man has all the wacky hijinks. She is also the responsible one with her eye on the ball, often found doing housework or seeing to the kids while dad is goofing off somewhere.
Find the best and most important part of a product being that it "shows up the boys", especially if it's a product that might otherwise be marketed primarily to men (alcohol, cars, etc.).
Be obsessed with how their hair looks, and the 'dangers' that are presented to it.
Likewise, a good shampoo will cause her to dance around, possibly with flying pieces of grapefuit, and an enormous grin.
Listen to soft rock and/or pop music. And when it is acknowledged that women also like hard rock bands or artists, they will typically prefer the ballads over the rockers.
Be colored with soft shading and light, pastel colors.
Be sassy, especially when gossiping with your girlfriends about how clueless the menfolk are.
Oh, and let's not forget that all commercials with this trope assume that their characters and anyone else watching are all heterosexual, so don't expect any lesbian or gay stereotypes here, beyond the occasional Pet Homosexual in the women's ads.
Also, anything that is supposed to be marketed to both genders equally will be advertised by men if the people in the ad are supposed to be characters we relate to, and by women if we're just supposed to be looking. In short, unisex products are advertised as if to heterosexual men. One reason for this is that men (and above all young adult men 18-25) are more likely to be influenced by advertising than women of any age, whose brand preferences are more likely to be fixed. Also, according to market research done by Angus Reid, young men are more swayed by emotional appeals in advertising than are older people or women, who tend to be more practical.
Naturally, this leads to many commercials setting up very implausible scenarios to emphasize the stereotype they're appealing to. Sometimes, if more than one gender is present in the commercial, they'll compare and contrast stereotypes, playing off the woman's sensitivity with the man's machismo. Hilarity Ensues.
Some Coors commercials have both the woman and her husband waiting for their respective items to "turn blue", but while she is watching a pregnancy test, he is waiting for his beer to get cold; as a final nail to show just how focused on his beer and not his woman the guy is, the ending has him saying that the beer can turned blue "like her eyes", shrugging off his mild surprise when he's told her eyes are actually green.
Even more offensive than this commercial is the mere notion that men are so borderline retarded that we need a color-changing bottle to tell our beer is cold...
The commercials for Mike's Hard Lemonade are a repeat offender. Most alcohol (although beer especially) commercials are bad enough, with the whole hyper-masculinity/sexualization-of-women thing, but these commercials find a new audience to offend; every commercial has some effeminate, sensitive, stereotypically dorky guy (nerd-lisp and all) toting some new product, such as "Mike's lowfat soy lemonade" or somesuch, and then his masculine supervisor slamming his plans in his face and making fun of him. "In a world gone soft, somebody's gotta be hard". Ugh.
Of course, this could be overcompensation for the fact that Mike's is considered by some (ok, many) men to be a "girly drink" not suitable for consumption by individuals with functioning, woman-seeking penises.
Drastic overcompensation. They'd be a lot better off with a "dare to drink what tastes good" campaign considering they are, at the end of the day, spiked lemonade.
Dairy Queen had an ad with a young woman crying and distraught about the death of her beloved cat. Her boyfriend showed up, and was consoling her [badly] as a pretense to get sips of her frozen latte drink while her arms were around him in the hug.
Levi's jeans had a series that gave off the subtext that to a man, a pair of their jeans should be more important than his relationship:
A woman is walking down the street wearing a pair of jeans. She is chased up a tree by a vicious dog. The dog yanks at the hem of her jeans until she takes them off. The dog then returns the jeans to his male master, leaving the girl to return home in her underwear. She gives the man in the apartment a dirty look, and he just smirks at her. Heaven only knows why she's wearing his jeans.
A man and a woman are sharing a tearful goodbye. He presents her with a pair of jeans, which she clings to, tearfully. He gets on the bus, and shortly after it pulls away, takes off the pants he was wearing to reveal a pair of jeans visually identical to the ones he gave away, implying he loved his jeans too much to part with them... but on the other hand, he must've really liked the woman to go to the trouble of making a new pair of jeans indistinguishable from his favourite pair. A longer version has a brief prologue showing how he inflicted the "battle damage" to a brand-new pair of jeans.
Starburst had a particularly disturbing ad. While Lionel Richie's "Hello" played in the background, a young man attempts to show his romantic interest in a woman by having sculpted a bust of her out of Starburst. She is rather weirded out, but then completely freaked as the young man begins eating the face of the bust, complete with suggestive noises.
Many men's cologne ads portray women as interested in sex purely as a side-effect of the cologne. Since Hai Karate did it in the 1960s, by TV standards, this makes this approach one of The Oldest Ones In The Book.
To say nothing of the way that Axe (Lynx in the UK) is marketed. Which has led to most middle schools reeking of the stuff as every 13-year-old boy thinks that if he douses himself in body spray, women will flock to him like flies to a recently deposited cow pie. As Andy Parsons said:
"Lynx: for that cheap teenage smell of desperation."
Brut did a Take That to Axe's ads with a man implied to be using one of such colognes. It was strong enough to turn a bunch of tough bikers into Hard Gays.
Beautifully parodied in the Sarah Jane Adventures, when a similar fake brand of body cologne was used to repel aliens because it was just that gross.
Nivea did another Take That that mocked the Axe commercials, showing the only people taken in by their reeking stuff to be Straw Loser high school kids and fat creeps. Then of course it had the standard well-toned manly man using "a body wash for grown-ups".
Also parodied quite nicely by Clare Grant and Rileah Vanderbilt who produced (and starred in) a trilogy of faux commercials for Saber body spray.
Also the "Axe Hair-Crisis Relief", which seems to portray any guy with spiky hair as a complete failure in society. Some of their personalities are never mentioned; when they are, they seem to be rabid.
One involved a balloon falling toward a guy's spiky hair at a fairly slow rate, which popped to reveal a girl (who fell on him and pinned him so they could 'fix' his hair). However, this implies that the balloon was filled with helium and a girl... which would mean a random dead girl falling on you out of a large balloon.
In Norway, Axe has a yearly contest where contestants submit home-made Axe commercials (the winner will be shown in cinemas). While some of these are (wellnote from a technical standpoint-made) appeals to sex, many of them are parodies. Of special notice was one where a hunter is in the middle of a forest and decided to apply deodorant. Since there are no women around, well... Baaaaaaah!
A shaving gel commercial portrayed itself as giving such a great add-on to the manly activity that the guy in the commercial shaved his entire head just so the experience wouldn't end. (And it was not done comedically, but was instead complete with cool walking-poses and deep-voiced narrator.)
Gillette ads for the five-bladed razor feature athletes like Tiger Woods, heavily implying that using the right razor makes you as awesome as they are.
There is an Arby's commercial in which a man and a woman are sharing a romantic moon-lit night by a lake. She suggests "a dip", clearly meaning a dip in the lake. He immediately becomes a moron, jumps off into the truck, and heads off to Arby's for a French dip sandwich... incidentally leaving her frustrated and angry, standing next to the lake.
Then there were the series of Radio Shack commercials where Teri Hatcher is so mean to Howie Long that many people thought the two were married. The commercials themselves were the usual "Dumb guy + Snarky Woman = Hijinx".
This Hardee's commercial is extremely blatant about it. "Guys don't bake." Indeed, your NASCAR-watching friends will look at you like you just served up a tray full of rape rather than biscuits if you do.
This one heads into Unfortunate Implications territory any way you slice it, either by implying that women are supposed to do things like baking, or that a guy who can take responsibility for his own domestic duties must be a total fruit.
Radio commercials for the haircare chain Sports Clips imply that half the population (women) lack the genes necessary to get sports. Doubly insulting in that it implies that real men only get their hair cut while watching FOOTBALL!, and that no woman can.
The same tactic was repeated again with Doctor Pepper Ten; the tagline was "Only For Men". Its already been gaining criticism for the Unfortunate Implications.
Dear Lord Coca-Cola Zero. To difference this product from the girly Diet Coke, these commercials were made as manly as possible. One has a guy met his ex, awkward moment, his pretty new girlfriend shows up, Stuff Blowing Up. Another commercial has a girlfriend breaking up with a guy, awkward moment, strippers dancing suggestive around a pole, Stuff Blowing Up. Yet another has a guy waking up after having sex with a girl, her Overprotective Dad knock on the door, awkward moment, SWAT arrives, Stuff Blowing Up.
Diet Pepsi Max does the same thing, inferring that men are embarrassed to be seen drinking diet soda ("Do you hide your diet soda inside your giant stuffed moose head when your friends come over—and then stare at the moose head longingly until your friends get weirded out and leave?") Just in case the extra caffeine and ginseng weren't enough to make it "the first diet cola for men" (the latter of which seems odd because anything "herbal" is stereotypically associated with women), "it even comes in a black can."
As of 2009, they've officially dropped the word "Diet" from the product's name! It's now merely Pepsi Max. That's how much PepsiCo is afraid the word "Diet" will scare away men.
I don't know if these were aired in the US, but in Europe, we got a series of commercials for Coca-Cola Zero that involved a bunch of "absolute wankers", to quote Charlie Brooker, who put them at the top spot of his top ten Biggest Cocks in Advertising. See for yourself.
These are similar to the Mexican commercials which use typical folks (with familiar, if annoying, quirks) to underscore the slogan: "typical Coca Cola taste, now with zero sugar". In keeping with the gender trope, almost all of these average Joes are males.
These were based off of a series of ads used in the US with similar douchey characters.
And the best part? The ingredients list for Coke Zero is almost identical to the ingredients list for the "girly" Diet Coke.
A commercial from De Beers' "A Diamond is Forever" campaign, while outwardly romantic, has a bit of a darker side. It showed a couple in what appears to be San Marco, one of the most romantic spots in the world, embracing. The man proclaims love for his woman loudly and bravely, "I LOVE THIS WOMAN!". She tells him to stop because it's embarrassing. He says, "Then maybe this will do," and shows her a ring. She hugs him and says "I love this man, I love this man." This is playing on the whole "Women love shiny things" trope. Because passionate heartfelt sentiment doesn't hold a candle to cold hard ice.
An ad for Bridgestone tires has a guy in his car confronted by some cyberpunky-looking evil types, who make the demand of "Your Bridgestone tires or your life." Instead, a woman gets chucked out of the car and the car screeches off with a cheery farewell honk, prompting a scandalized "I said life, not wife!" The comedy is a case of mishearing the threat, but you can't help but think of the alternative: the guy just threw his significant other to pirates who could do God knows what to her to save histires.
Miller Light ads have been taking this to a new level of blatancy of exploiting male insecurities. One ad shows a guy ordering light beer from an attractive female bartender. She asks what kind, he says "Doesn't matter." She replies something like "Take off your skirt and I'll bring it to you" and it pans out that he's actually wearing a skirt, and even says so in the voiceover something like "Man up to Miller Light!" Other Miller ads have been amping up the blatant sexism too.
When your product is fermented barley water, you'd better be willing to prey on some insecurities to survive.
A New Zealand dairy has come out with a "manly" yogurt for tough guys. Because only women eat yogurt, and a secure man would naturally be fatally threatened by a brand of yogurt that wasn't "manly".
An insurance commercial features a bunch of men who have saved on their insurance, and thus splurged on completely ridiculous items, the primary being the goofy, giggling man who has bought a falcon. A parade of unintelligent-looking men (except the black guy, he looks intelligent and well-dressed) with other frivolous purchases walk by, whimpering "I could have bought a falcon!" Each man is accompanied by his exasperated, eye-rolling wife.
A Carl's Jr. ad campaign in the 1990s featured a young adult man staring helplessly at a pound of raw hamburger in a grocery store, poking at it as though it were a space alien. Then the closing voice-over: "Carl's Jr. Without us, some guys would starve."
That commercial for "Dr. Pepper 10," a version of Dr. Pepper with 10 "manly" calories, is extremely blatant about its message: "IT'S NOT FOR WOMEN!!" Implying that women should only drink the regular diet Dr. Pepper. These commercials are a clear example of Testosterone Poisoning, what with all the Jeep-driving and explosions, but the intended comedic effect is lessened by the fact that the "joke" really has no context and makes no sense.
Burger King ran this into the ground so hard with the choice to focus all their advertising and new product choices on the 20-something male demographic that it is suspected to be the cause of a sales drop. They were sued by their own franchisees over the decision to make the restaurant chain "Mars" and alienating kids and less-meat obsessed and more calorie conscious folks.
Electronic Arts ran an infamous ad for Dead Space 2 featuring middle-aged women being horrified by the level of violence in the game, saying "Your mom hates it." While /Most Gamers Are Male is never mentioned, it's implied that a large demographic would be willing to spend sixty dollars just to shock their aged mothers.
A pair of kids are apparently living with their single father (who we never see — he's in the shower) and one tells the other that "Dad says breakfast's in the toaster". A moral that Men Can't Keep House? No, the bread is what they're advertising. Presumably the message is "if all you can cook is toast, buy this especially healthy and nutritious bread so your kids don't starve to death on the bus".
"Open! Open! Open!" was the catch phrase for a bunch of extremely annoying Mervyn's commercials, which featured women rhapsodizing about all the shopping they could do once the store had opened. Camera pulls back to reveal that dawn is barely breaking. The shopping-obsessed women are waiting around for the store to open! Sometimes wearing bathrobes or PJs, because (duh!) stopping to dress might cut into their waiting-for-the-store-to-open time! Candi Milo was in one of these before her voice acting career took off.
The salsa commercial with a bunch of women making up their own gossip about their kids whom they're using a "play date" as an excuse to get together. The camera then switches to the kids... who are all infants. The moms just came for the chips.
Oh, those Yoplait commercials... The two sassy single women at a spa recall such womanly pleasures that reminds them of just how good their yogurt is: Shoes! Shopping! Chocolate! It's like a Cathy comic strip come to life.
In fact, as a broad generalization, in commercials, men lose weight by exercising. Women lose weight through pills, SlimFast, and eating only lowfat or fatfree foods.
Ever see those SlimQuick commercials? Men lose weight by simply drinking water instead of soda, while the woman - who hasn't had anything made with flour in over 5 years - is still fat and requires the product to lose the weight.
The vast majority of home security ads as of late play out as follows: A woman alone or with children is at home when scary looking man loudly breaks in. Alarm sounds. Scary man runs away. Scared woman gets soothing phone call from handsome and therefore non-scary male security company employee.
Even better, at least one of the commercials showed the scary looking man lurking around the house and glaring menacingly through the windows before breaking in, making it abundantly clear that he knew there was someone in the house, but wasn't concerned because it was "just a woman."
All of these ads are fairly ridiculous, because the vast majority of home break-ins happen in the middle of the day, when the crook is pretty sure no one is home, often trying to surreptitiously watch the house to make sure there's no movement - a burglary charge is usually less than a robbery charge (the difference is whether you just steal something, or actively threaten someone in person to make them give you something).
Any cleaning product, cooking recipe, weight loss or childcare commercial, EVER.
Rarely, if ever is there a commercial for a cleaning product where it's the man who's cleaning up. Or, heaven forbid, the little brats shown making the mess in the first place as in many of these commercials, a group of holy terrors who look old enough to do their own damn cleaning up are the ones responsible for the epic messes the women are left to deal with.
There was one Swiffer duster commercial that had a man cleaning...but he was a CSI cleaning up at a crime scene. Because a man would only ever clean in a professional context, never to keep house.
Similarly, there's an ad for Swiffer steam boost featuring men cleaning... but they're soldiers mopping up their barracks for inspection. You have to construct a scenario for a man cleaning to make sense, apparently.
In 2009 Dell Computers introduced della.com, a website designed to sell laptops to women. Apparently, Dell assumed that women aren't interested in (or won't understand) all those scary hard numbers that let rational male buyers choose the laptop that best suits their needs. No, women are only interested in how cute the computer is, since they're only going to be using it for shopping, diet tips, and watching cooking videos. For some reason, women in the real world didn't embrace the website with undiluted enthusiasm.
A few years ago, KFC put out a commercial that featured women throwing their frying pans out windows, on the rationale that they weren't cooking that night because they'd ordered KFC. Quite aside from the flaw of flying cast-iron things (one narrowly missed a mailman), there's also the fact that even if they're wealthy enough to afford buying takeout fried chicken every single time they want it for the rest of their life, they might still need their frying pan to cook other things and will eventually have to retrieve it...
Women's cigarettes. Brands like Virginia Slims ("You've come a long way, baby!") and Saratoga were aimed at female smokers. They were "feminine" in that they were more slender than the normal (presumably manly) cigarettes. Steve Martin once quipped, "This is a Virginia Slim I'm smoking. They're supposed to be women's cigarettes. What do they have, little breasts on 'em or something?" More recent women's cigarette brands, such as Camel No. 9, instead feature pink flowers on the box.
Every single Special K commercial ever. "Oops! You're about to be tempted by this naughty, sinful piece of candy or chocolate cake. Good thing you're smarter than that, so you'll drink this flavored water and eat this crunchy nutrient-free cardboard instead! Because one little sweet can ruin an entire day of otherwise healthy eating!" Notice how whenever guys need to lose weight or eat healthy, they're just told not to stuff themselves with 2 double cheeseburgers and a jumbo order of fries in one sitting aka "what most people tend to do anyway".
A commercial shows a party scene. The hostess brings her girl friends to a back room and shows off a walk-in closet full of designer shoes and clothes. The women squeal and bounce with joy, when suddenly the sound of yelling men is heard. The camera pans to show a walk-in fridge filled with Heineken beer, with the men reacting exactly like the women: squealing and bouncing with joy. Notable for hitting both the "men love beer!" and the "women love clothes!" notes while only actually advertising one of the above products.
The Burger King "I Am Man" series of commercials shows guys doing stereotypically "macho" things (at one point someone tows a truck with his teeth), while praising the utter masculinity of a hamburger to the tune of Helen Reddy's "I Am Woman". At one point a character tosses aside a plate of nouvelle cuisine, decrying it as "chick food".
Sony did a commercial for its Bravia line of televisions, advertising the Bravia as "The. World's. First. Television. For. Men. And. Women. Trademark." The advertising campaign was based entirely on the idea that men cared only, and only men cared, how well a TV worked and how good its "awesome HD picture" was. Only women cared, and women cared only, that it look "really stylish on the wall".
A set of wine ads targeted at women displayed them sitting about together sipping wine, while nearby men humiliated themselves in various ways to try and "earn" a glass of it. The women would laugh and roll their eyes at each attempt, shrugging off the idea that it "deserved" a glass of Arbor Mist, until the men either did something so ridiculously impressive or hurt themselves, at which point the women would grudgingly concede that just maybe they'd allow the men to have some.
Any guy who would drink a cheap blush clearly hasn't much dignity to start with.
It's worrisome that they're encouraging guys to do stuff stupid enough to hurt themselves BEFORE they start drinking.
A commercial for a vacuum had a woman happily vacuuming the carpet with a big smile on her face because the vacuum cleaner is just so awesome, while her husband climbs a ladder outside to do some work on the roof. The ladder suddenly tilts away from the house, causing the husband to call for help. The wife calmly extends the tube of the vacuum and reaches over, using the suction to snag him by the chest and yank him back up against the house. The husband looks ashamed of himself for almost falling to his death, while the wife smirks smugly at him and goes back to her vacuuming.
This either is hilarious because A) that's one hell of a vacuum cleaner, or B) he does that so often that she's so casual about rescuing him without breaking concentration.
Some ads for the Chase Sapphire credit card in the US emphasize that you can "use your points for anything" by having the husband asking his wife what she thinks of using their points for a vacation for the two of them, only to have it revealed that she's already spent them—on a not particularly attractive dress. Would be an aversion (letting the husband be responsible for once) if she hadn't spent the money on a dress, but, really, who could blame the silly little thing for something like that, she just can't help herself.
There's a series of commercials for Captain Morgan's spiced rum wherein men use (false) sensitivity (e.g., walking puppies that are being handed out for just this sort of thing) to trick women into lavishing attention on the men. And then the men celebrate outsmarting these caricatures of women by drinking said rum.
ThisCracked article notes the bizarre assumption that not only do men not eat yogurt, they can't even perceive its existence.
Subverted in a Jif commercial. For years, it's been "Choosy Moms Choose Jif." Someone must've done market research, and discovered a target group of single dads raising children, because one had a dad building his daughter a treehouse, making it "Choosy Moms (And Dads) Choose Jif". But, in some ways, this is also played straight, as it's the daughter who makes the sandwich and the dad who builds the treehouse. While being more endearing than the original commercials, this still carries Unfortunate Implications, like that a nine-year-old girl can cook better than a grown man.
Kmart: If it's Mother's Day they advertise "great deals" (or phrasing to that effect) on clothing and jewelry, you know, things women are supposed to like. If it's Father's Day they advertise those same "great deals" on flat screen TVs, outdoor grills, and other things men are supposed to like. Whenever it's the holidays, women (and it's always women) are shown being assisted by the (male-voiced) Blue Light as they purchase a high-tech gift for their husbands, and toward the end of the commercials look toward the jewelry counter lustfully, as if to imply all women love shiny things. Kmart's advertising is the most gender-normative of all the "big box retailers".
The Five Hour Energy commercials. One commercial shows a man getting up at 6am and he is tired, and doesn't want to get out of bed. But he has to because he has an important meeting at work. So he takes the product and he's bouncing out the door to the big, important meeting. Now the one with the woman shows her hitting the snooze button at 6:30 am and whining about how she doesn't want to get up to EXERCISE. When she does get out of bed, she's looking in the mirror and complaining about how fat she is (she really isn't) and how she needs to exercise. She takes the product and at the end of the commercial, she is on the treadmill.
The old Herbal Essences shampoo commercials that would feature women shouting as if in orgasm when shampooing with Herbal Essences because it was just so good for their hair. This winds up in the "both" category because not only was the campaign built on the idea that women would achieve orgasm over hair care, at least one featured a smug-looking woman handing her husband a bottle of the shampoo as he went into the bathroom. Almost instantly cue a single "YES!", and the woman rolling her eyes and smirking even bigger than before.
One State Farm commericial has two parents talking to their son, who has recently graduated from high school. With the help of the State Farm agent, the mom changes her son's room into a walk in closet with lots of shoes, getting a pink dress in the process. The dad (played by Scrubs' John McGinly) changes it into a dojo and immediately chops a board in half while wearing a black karate uniform. The couple then decide on a sauna, completely unaware of that their son is uncomfortable with the situation ("I just graduated...")
In general a major difference between commercials where a lot of bad or aggravating things happen to the "main character" is that most often if bad things happen to women, it should be an excuse for them to do something nice for themselves (relax with a food product, take a vacation, go to a store she'd enjoy), but if it's a man, there's something wrong in his life that he needs to fix. Not necessarily his own fault, but his suffering is the sign of a greater onus (he's driving the wrong car, he needs to make smarter decisions, he needs to watch his health). Women get to make themselves feel better for things beyond their control, men need to fix their lives.
Few things are more cloyingly gender-normative than jewelry commercials — particularly those for engagement rings — but this one from Kay Jewelers takes the cake. Forget Women Are Wiser and Men Can't Keep House; this one goes back to old-school gender stereotypes. Sorry ladies, you're fragile and terrified of everything, but your big strong man will protect you (from a thunderstorm — somehow) and buy you expensive things. As one commentator on Bitch Magazine's web article on the ad pointed out:
An adult who is frightened by thunder belongs in a Regency romance. She doesn't need diamonds; she needs someone to loosen her stays, waft smelling salts under her nose, and ring the parlourmaid to bring a soothing tisane.
A December 2007 ad for frozen crock pot meals. A woman is in the yard, dancing. The captions say "She just scored a touchdown while cooking dinner." Playing football in the yard is usually the province of "for the man" products. Though, of course, the cooking connection is stereotypically female.
Diamond and other jewellery ads are notorious for subverting the "men are clueless about what women want". All the men in diamond commercials are sensitive, romantic, attentive, and like ballroom dancing.
A Best Buy ad features (amongst other people) a couple on a couch with a widescreen TV. The woman promises "to only watch football on Sunday"... adding "and Monday" and other days as the commercial goes on, until she's covered every day that football typically airs on.
Heck, all Best Buy ads are commendably non-stereotypical, showing that women can get just as excited about technology and be just as knowledgeable about it as men can.
The NFL used to air a commercial where a woman dressed to the nines in New York Giants gear greets her fellow female Giants fans with high-fives and cheers. When the last girl appears wearing (rival) Jets gear, they greet each other coldly and a screeching cat sound is heard.
All household paint commercials show both men and women getting involved with their own painting projects, which used to be thought of as something only men would get involved with.
And one of these as a parody. An expectant couple is shown, with the wife's hands occasionally resting on her belly as they sort through what has to be the perfect colour of paint. They find it ... in time for the wife to yell something uncomplimentary while they're at an American football game.
Though there have been various commercials involving household paint where the long-suffering woman has to put up with a husband who's such an enormous idiot that he not only doesn't know the names for thirty-two slightly different shades of purple, but he can't even tell some of them apart!
A Meineke commercial shows a woman standing right next to a male mechanic, but the woman is shown being knowledgeable enough of the underworkings of vehicles that she's easily able to answer what she'd prefer the mechanic use as he's working on her vehicle.
Extending this, a Walmart commercial advertises that these days, everyone's changing their own oil at home, and men and women are shown getting into the oil changing projects as couples. (Just in case you're wondering, these commercials always indicate that you can take in your old oil to be recycled at any Walmart auto/tire service department.)
This Diet Coke ad zig-zags the trope back and forth: the women are secretaries, but the whole thing is set up as an inversion of the "guys lusting after eyecandy girl" type of ads. On the other hand, using the product might make the man (more) attractive to women ...
The protagonist of Margaret Atwood's first novel, The Edible Woman, works for an advertising agency. Near the beginning of the book she's doing a survey of what men think of the ad for Moose Beer, which is rife with masculine images of hunting, fishing and "just plain old fashioned relaxing". The protagonist notes that this manages to make sitting on the couch slurping down a beer seem manly and strong.
Similarly, Mandles! Candles in manly scents, like pigskin and bacon cheeseburger!
In Real Life, Yankee Candle, the leading maker of scented candles, has brought this concept to reality with its "Man Candles" line: First Down, 2X4 (wood), Riding Mower (a revival of the old Green Grass scent with a manlier moniker), Man Town, Movie Night (popcorn) and even MMM, Bacon! They also offer "Collegiate Collection" candles with college logos and matching colors — the scents are actually previously-established, mostly fruit-based ones, just with "manlier" packaging.
Narrator: Women: you're leaking, ageing, hairy, overweight, and everything hurts. And your childrens' clothes are filthy. For God's sake, sort yourself out. Men: Shave and get drunk. 'Cause you're already brilliant.
In The Simpsons, Homer accidentally buys an "F-series" Canyonero SUV, which has a lipstick holder in place of the cigarette lighter.
The real parody is the Canyonero commercial, which is everything on the "targeted to men" list, including Hank Williams, Jr. belting out the jingle.
Twelve yards long and two lanes wide, It's sixty-five tons of American pride, Canyonero!
Family Guy did a parody of the diamond "silhouette" commercials which was pretty typical up until the male silhouette produced the ring and the female silhouette started to get on her knees in front of him. The tagline was "She'll pretty much have to." Which is pretty much the message de Beers wished they could get away with in the originals.
Sarah Haskins's "Target Women" series on Infomania was entirely about how stupid advertising for women is — everything from the amount of emotion we're supposed to expend on cleaning products to the way birth control pills are marketed as a way to make your period lighter so no one has to acknowledge women wanting to have sex but not babies.
The second series of Look Around You featured the Petticoat 5 computer, designed specifically for women. It features extra-long keys to accommodate for long fingernails, a ring holder, a tissue dispenser, a mirror, a nail file, and a perfume dispenser, the latter of which is activated by the 'S' key.
A December 2007 Lexus ad. A woman answers the phone and you hear her husband apologetically tell her that he's stuck at work and will be unable to pick up their son from practice. The woman, exasperated, sighs, "you promised!" and hangs up on him when he tries to say he's sorry. The shot changes to outside, where the father looks at the phone and says "She hung up on me." The shot pulls back to reveal father and son standing beside a Lexus wrapped in a bow. The shot changes to the mother stalking out to get the kids from practice and stopping cold as she sees what's in the driveway. "Just a little somethin'," the husband says, bashfully. He's not insensitive or clueless, but she thought he was!
There is a commercial for boots that, in order to show off how much they could take, showed a person from the waist down fixing cars, climbing mountains, riding horseback, and other "tough" things. The person was revealed in the final shot to be a woman.
There is a similar one for skin cream. The ad started off with someone sawing trees into little bits. Only at the end do we find out it's a woman.
There was a Mercury car ad where two guys were discussing how much you can tell about someone from their cars. He walks up to this muscle car and says that whoever owns it is "Da Man!" Cue woman walking up, getting in, and driving away.
Irish comedian Dara O'Briain makes a point about this in his show 'Talks Funny', regarding the ClearBlu Pregnancy Test. He says that the dynamic voice-over and flashy effects are ideal for attracting male buyers to a female-orientated product, as peeing on things is "the Holy Grail" of technology as far as men are concerned. In turn, he says that this is because men are marketed to as though they were "autistic 12 year old boys" who wish that all of life's major decisions could be confirmed by peeing on things.
A commercial for one of the satellite services from a few years ago: a man is proposing to a woman. (Paraphrased)
Man: We both like the same things - you like sports, I like sports.
Woman: What do you mean? I don't like sports.
Man: But you've got the [name of product], which shows all the sports you'd ever want to see.
Woman: Oh, actually I got it for all the cooking shows and whatnot. I never watch sports.
cut to man driving away in his convertible
Man: I'll call you.
The subversion comes after that, where we see her in a football jersey holding a tub of popcorn cheering her favorite team on. She did like sports, she just didn't want to marry the guy.
There is an NHL commercial for the Florida Panthers that shows a couple of guys ogling a gorgeous woman on roller skates. She then skates up to another woman and throws her to the ground with a nice body check. "Must be a Panthers fan"
Subverted in one commercial where a girl is talking about what she can by with her credit card reward points. She talks about buying new clothes and shoes, but as she is doing this it is shown that all these things are rock climbing equipment, which she is then shown using.
A current ad for Dr. Pepper Ten starts out with a generic action movie scene, then the hero tells the women that this is not for them, as it's a man's diet drink. Here, they're obviously trying to tap into the market of guys who associate any sort of diet products with "woman-stuff," which is more common of a fallacy than you might think.
A beer ad for a Coors packaging innovation, where the cans have a wider mouth or "vent" to allow more beer to pour out faster. A man receives a call from a friend, and says he wants to go over—his friend really needs to "vent". Pleased with his sensitivity, she tells him to go ahead. Arriving, the two guys grin and say, "Let's vent!", holding up a case of the new beer.