The Men Your Man Could Smell Like

In recent months, while watching hockey games, I’ve noticed these L’Oreal For Men commercials featuring Patrick Dempsey:

The target demographic for these commercials is surely wives and girlfriends. The cliche here is the wife sitting beside her husband on the couch, a little bored as she half-watches LePeiter pass to Huckenchuck and go offside. Then she immediately perks up when Doctor McDreamy or whatever his frackin’ nickname is shows up on-screen.

The ad’s subtext is simple: “Buy this for your man, and he’ll be slightly more similar to Patrick Dempsey”. That’s fair enough–ads employ aspirational messages all the time. That doesn’t make the ad or the product line any less ridiculous. L’Oreal for Men? Seriously? This is one wrong-headed brand extension.

On the other hand, this excellent Old Spice commercial seems to intentionally spoof the Dempsey ads. And I think, given its mix of hunk and humour, it’s going to reach both people on the couch:

“If he stopped using lady-scented body wash, he could smell like he’s me.” Bonus points for the subtle reference to the SNL digital short, “I’m on a Boat” (rated PG for cuss words).


  1. Old Spice has done a great job poking fun at its formerly manly-man’s ad image. I’m sure sales have increased as a result. That said, sometimes I buy the “lady-scented” stuff myself, because if you close your eyes and imagine it’s in a blue bottle, it actually smells pretty much the same.

  2. Does L’Oréal think they are reaching men with this message? Or I wonder if they expect women to buy this stuff for their husbands to use?

    I know of women who buy just about everything for their households, including their husbands’ clothing, which has always struck me as a bit weird.


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