The demise of the Beard has been vastly overstated.
Hirsute taste-makers were put on notice last April in a Guardian Australia article, "Fashion-conscious men warned we may have reached 'peak beard'." The piece cited research by the University of New South Wales in Sydney that concluded: when you're shown a succession of images of bearded men, clean-shaven guys become more attractive to you.
No big hairy surprise there, but the headline's prediction of calamity to "fashion-conscious" men who are enjoying letting their face freak flag fly was clearly an absurd ruse meant to mislead people. "Watch out," the pogonophobes seem to shriek, waving their razors and clippers and every other epilator known to the huge hair-removal industry, "you endangered beardos, your time is up! May as well get out those clippers and razors right now and do what we fasionistas demand must be the end of the trend of the beardly man."
The researcher admitted, "it was hard to tell how the experiment related to the real world" despite his conclusion that "the fashion for beards might be reaching its zenith."
For those of us observing this trend in the real world, any cursory scan of cable TV programming will demonstrate that there is no evidence that consumers and the ad agencies that love them are suffering from beard or mustache fatigue. To the point, when multimillion-dollar ad campaigns increasingly place male actors with facial hair into prominence, any claim that we have reached "peak beard" must be considered premature. Some, like Old Spice, even put ridiculous fake beards on their pitchmen (they couldn't find a guy with a real beard? Really?).
Following is a list of major brands that used beards to sell their products and services over the past 14 weeks, everything from household gadgets to luxury cars, with links to some of the 365+ images on my Pinterest board, Beards on TV Ads. From AARP to Zzzquil, a huge market still defies the pogonophobes and hair-naysayers. Images of man-fur, fuzzy-faced men, and beards continue to mature and develop in pop culture, as evidenced by the cold hard cash that these corporations are willing to part with to support the continuing appeal of poilus.
AARP. Absolut. Acura. Aflac. Aleve. Alka-Seltzer. Allstate. American Express. Amica. Android. Android Tracfone. Angie's List. Appleby"s. AT&T. Audi. Bayer. BMW. Booking.com. Brother. Bud Light. Cadillac. Campbell"s. Capital One. Cascade. Chase. Cheerios. Cigna. Cîroc. Cheetos. Chevy. Coke. Coors. Corona. Crest. CSX. CVSHealth. Dawn. Depend. Delta. Denny"s. Dewars. DirecTV. Discover Card. Dodge. Dollar Shave Club. Doritos. Dos Equis, "The Most Interesting Man in the World." Duluth Trading Co. Dunkin' Donuts. eHarmony. Eliquis. FedEx. Fiber One. Ford. Frosted Mini-Wheats. Gatorade. GE. Geico. GoGurt. Google. GrubHub. H&R Block, sponsor of the 2012 Washington, DC "Million Mustache March." Heineken. Hewlett-Packard. Honda. Hotels.com, "Captain Obvious." Hulu. Humira. IHOP. Infiniti. Jack Daniels. Jameson. Just for Men for Beards. KFC. Kia. KitKat. Laser Spine Institute. Legal Zoom. Lexus. Liberty Mutual. Lincoln. Lipton. Little Caesars Pizza. L.L. Bean. MasterCard. McDonald"s. Men"s Wearhouse. Mercedes-Benz. Microsoft Cloud. Miller. Mio. Motorola. National Car Rental. Nestle"s. Nexium. Nicorette. Nike. Nintendo. Nissan Altima. Ocuvite. Office Depot. Oxyclean, the late great Billy Mays. Pizza Hut. Priceline. Prilosec. Progressive. Prudential. Ram trucks. Realtors. Sabra. Safelite. Salonpas. Sam Adams. Samsung Galaxy. Silk. Skittles. Smirnoff, "Okay, beardo." Smith & Forge. Sony. Sprint. Sprint Framily Plan. "More beard!" State Farm. Subaru. Subway. T-Mobile. Taco Bell. TD Ameritrade. The North Face. Toshiba. Totino"s. Toyota. TrueCar. Tullamore Dew. Tums. Tylenol. University of Phoenix. UPS. Verizon. Viagra. Vistaprint. Vizio. VW. Wallet Ninja. Wendy"s. Whole Foods Market. Xarelto. Xeljanz. Zillow. Zzzquil.
Dr. Kevin Clarke, the author of Beards: An Unshaven History, pointed out in an interview "how three very different groups of people adopted beards after 2001 for very different reasons, but collectively inspired the world to grow back big old-fashioned beards." These groups are gay/bi bears, cowboy fashion renaissance post-9/11, and "asexual hipsters, adopting the Taliban beard as an anti-establishment statement, but eliminating its political implications."
American ad agencies are arguably more "real world" than the UNSW research study sample of 1,453 bisexual or heterosexual women and 213 straight men (exclusion of gay and bi men and lesbians should raise doubts as to the legitimacy of the study methodology). The study also noticed a reverse effect, in which people shown a succession of clean-shaven images found that bearded or scruffy men became more attractive; however, this shaven-face fatigue factor in the study is conveniently ignored when proclaiming the the Beard is dead, long live the Beard.
Bearders are gonna beard, shavers are gonna shave, but even in a post-Whisker Wars world, clearly lumbersexuality is on the rise and peak beard is not yet within sight. As far as the pogonophiles are concerned, there is still ample room for the beard to grow and flourish.