Men wearing bras is inflammatory, funny, and/or sexy, depending on who you ask.
The man-boob is having a moment, sort of. For context, men don't have breasts, at least not biologically. Men have nipples, but they do not lactate. Still with me? Okay. Men don't have breasts, but they are having bras advertised to them, and the fact that men don't have breasts but can be made to look like they do seems to blow people's minds.
In Changsha, China, a commercial for a push-up bra made by a company called Beautiful Chest Queen played on a television screen in a shopping area. As part of the product demonstration, the voiceover, as translated by Brian Ashcroft at Kotaku, says "wow, even a man can wear this and have wonderful cleavage." The accompanying image is of a man's chest with his nipples exposed, as he puts on the bra and creates some nice cleavage for himself. This very much offended at least one female shopper, who is quoted as saying "Showing a scene in public where a female model reveals a nipple is a really bad influence. What if children saw this?"
Yes, the old "won't someone think of the children?" argument. Since this passerby didn't realize that the nipples in question belonged to a man, one wonders what she would have thought if she knew. Would she have been impressed by the bra's impressive push-up action? Would she be offended by the cross-dressing or the nudity or some other arbitrary transgression? Or would she not be offended at all, because men's nipples are not offensive due to the fact that there is no mammary underneath (and society arbitrarily decided that is what makes a rack offensive)? In any case, this controversy shows, once again, that using a man to advertise a bra is an effective attention-grabbing brand strategy.
We've also seen effective man-boob marketing from Kewi, a company that makes custom-fitting bras for large-breasted women. Kewi's founder and CEO Muyiwa Olumide announced that he will be getting breast implants in order to better understand his customers and his product. Whether or not this makes money remains to be seen (Kewi's crowdfunding page isn't thriving), and whether or not Olumide follows through on the surgery, awareness for the product has been raised. Some commenters on Kewi's Facebook page are offended that a man would attempt to understand his product and audience. What Olumide has really demonstrated is an understanding of social media, and the adage "man-boobs sell."
Other controversial man-boobs in recent advertising include Toyota's commercial starring beautiful androgynous model Stav Strashko. In that Japanese spot, a sexy topless model struts, filmed in closeup and from behind, until the last second when she turns around and reveals that she's a man. And a British company called HommeMystere that makes sexy lingerie for men had its own fake-out ad that shows someone putting on women's underwear, only to make it seem like it's a woman, and then revealing that it was her boyfriend getting dressed and they're wearing the same underwear.
This current man-boob moment has yet to reach American advertising, but hopefully by the next Super Bowl we'll have a man in a bra infuriating "think of the children" crusaders, and not just women. Maybe for GoDaddy?
Mostly what this is is another example of Seinfeld being ahead of its time.
Image via Kotaku.