Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Tiger Woodn't

I am obsessed with the Gillette fusion pro-glide advert. To the extent that I watched an American man on Youtube take the "Pro-glide Challenge". The results were disappointing. Firstly he had a goatee: I have nothing against goatees of course; they're just hair; blameless innocent hair. My massive problem is with the people who grow them. The only people who should have goatees are deeply conservative stage magicians and snooty Grandees. Any one else is either a poseur hipster or somebody trying to cop the allure and mystery of a stage magician without the the credentials. If you're going to grow a goatee learn a card trick or how to pour a glass of water into a rolled up newspaper. Or if you're aping a Grandee then be seen as often as possible smoking a cheroot on a balcony. That's what Grandees do, in my experience. So I assumed the worst when confronted by this character, with his Utah flat American voice and his shapeless plaid shirt; I assumed he was taking the "challenge" ironically.

There is a misconception amongst a particular brand of ham-headed middle English bore that Americans don't DO irony. They think it is an adjective describing the Flat-Iron building. The opposite is true. Since Americans developed, in a beaker, paid for with NASA dollars, a pure strain of irony in the late fifties it has been endemic. Nobody knows if they mean it any more, man.

But this guy DID mean it! He had had a bad shave with a previous Gillete product, tweeted about it, and Gillette had sent him the Pro-glide and asked him to accept the challenge. And he had, filming himself while doing it. He then proceeded, ploddingly, to give himself the worst, most cack-handed shave I have ever seen! He slathered a thin gruel of suds over the bottom half of his face and began randomly scratching away in a criss-cross formation, occasionally running the razor under the tap to remove the foam - he hadn't even filled the sink.

Unsurprisingly the shave wasn't too great, something he noted with every stroke: "It's still quite rough. It's still dragging" he intoned mournfully. It was like watching amateur pornography stolidly undertaken by a man who thinks a blow job really relies on exemplary blowing. And like a lot of amateur porn I didn't make it to the end.

Gillette's own advert is actually worse, taking place in the same corporate macho-land that sees platinum cards ping bra straps at twenty paces and where maximum strength flu remedies are the ultimate tool in business one-up-manship. Where else would a man leaping into your bathroom, tooled up and shouting "Hey Buddy!" manage to successfully engage you in accepting a "challenge". Perhaps in prison. Being propositioned in a bathroom means nothing in corporate macho-land as there are no gays at all, just well groomed, handsome men who look after themselves. Gays probably have their own toilets like that other semi-mythical beast: Woman. The fact that this appears to be happening at work**, where it's natural to strip to a skimpy towel in order to shave, in anticipation of "Buddy" guy* and his film crew, is unsettling in itself. This looks like very niche marketing to me.

That it's based on the American adverts is obvious and we all know how Americans feel about ordinary looking people on their televisions (there are none. Except the fatty on "Gilmore Girls")and hats off to Gilette for not simply revoicing them, a la "Just for Men" or "Vanish". And don't get me started on the all-you-can-do-is-chew lip synching of the "Accident Hero". But hats as resolutely jammed on as Vlad the Impaler's accountant's, for not changing a word of the script, even, especially, down to the opening "Hey Buddy".

So who is it aimed at? Young, sporty, straight men, with office jobs. (there is much joshing and muck-about fun at the end. Gays never take their mucking about seriously) The cash rich and taste poor: Beamer drivers.

Gillette you have alienated me and my plodding American cousin, albeit for very different reasons. For shame. Buddy.

*Not Buddy Guy, obv.

** Closer inspection indicates that it takes place in a gym. No one shaves in the gym. Old men wander around with their giant balls hanging out like cocky conker players but nobody shaves.

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