05/22/2013 01:00 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Shirtless Men: The New 'Big Thing' In Advertising?


According to USA Today, good-looking shirtless dudes are the new "big thing" in advertising.

A spate of new commercials focus on the male body instead of the female one -- examples include the Diet Dr. Pepper ad featuring Josh Button and the naked chef in the Kraft Zesty Italian Dressing video.

Has advertisers' preoccupation with half-naked women shifted to half-naked men? Unclear. I think that bikini-clad girls will be used to sell products until probably the end of time, but it's interesting to see more chest-baring men being thrown into the mix.

WATCH: Kraft's Zesty Italian Dressing Commercial (story continues below)

Bruce Horovitz of USA Today suggested that these sexy men are designed to appeal to the people who actually do most of the purchasing in American households -- the women.

According to Time, women now hold around half of all non-farming jobs in the U.S.. They also make approximately 85 percent of all brand purchases.

But what is it about a shirtless man that would make women want to buy a product? The scantily-clad women we see in ads are usually meant to be aspirational. By buying the product, women can be them and men can be around them or able to attract them.

Does the same ring true when things are the other way around? Are brands banking on women buying the product those washboard abs are selling because they believe it will make them worthy of a similarly-ripped dude? Is the thought that men will buy products sold by Adonises because they aspire to a similar look? Given recent data on declining male body image, it's not inconceivable, but I still say probably not.

In a post for Jezebel, Dodai Stewart pointed out a key difference in the hunky ads:

"It's worth noting that all of these ads have a certain winky sense of humor about them; instead of the plain-old straightforward objectification you usually find in ads with half-naked women, these guys, and the tone of the commercials, are very jokey."

This is evidence that advertisers are worried the old bikini hook that beer/cars/GoDaddy have relied on isn't going to cut it going forwards, but haven't figured out exactly what will appeal to female consumers. It's clear that sex sells -- and who would abandon something that works so well? -- but those "sexy" ads require an update.


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