It seems that the metrosexual war has broken out in Holland. But it’s a phoney one.

News item translated from Adformatie (Holland’s Campaign) 30 March, 2006:

The metrosexual isn’t over

The metrosexual is passé, so please make space for the uber-sexual! That’s the message behind the new Bavaria beer campaign, launched publicly today. Men with neat haircuts doing the shopping and the ironing are transformed during the advert into angry Neanderthals running through the woods until they experience their “Bavaria moment” in the pub.

“Men have to become men again”, says Bavaria manager Peter Swinkels during Monday’s press conference. He was supported by trend watcher Marian Salzman, who stated that the metrosexual has had his time. She claims the baton is being taken over by the ubersexual, who is self-assured and doesn’t let himself be bent by women.

Mmm. Except, of course, by women who work in advertising….

“The campaign is a wake up call for man”, says Edith Janson, strategist at KesselsKramer. “It’s time for a more manly man with moustaches or beard.”

You know it’s curtains for ‘real’ men when ad execs tell you ‘men have to become men again’.  Capitalism sells back to men what it has successfully alienated from them.  In this case, it seems, with a hilarious drag king moustache stuck on for free.

Salzman does have her critics among other trend watchers. “It’s hilarioius and wrong”, according to Carl Rohde. “The metrosexual is a given, just look at the revolutionary changes in fitness, cosmetics and fashion.” And Norbert Mirani (SMM): “Of course there is a reaction, but there is no trace of a break in trends. On top of that, the uber-sexual has been around for a long time already. It’s a standard compensatory reaction.”

Like knee jerks. But I would go further, and point out that the so-called ‘ubersexual’ is just a tacky con – a joke moustache.

What was hyped as ‘the future of men’ is turning out to be nothing more than a rather camp PR trick: the faux-retrosexual. Or as the editorial in the same issue of Adformatie puts it:

Uberman

Is the metrosexual dead, as Marian Salzman claims? Of course not. But just like her “brandsluts” concept, the New York oracle needs a juicy story. If she doesn’t steal it from someone else (Mark Simpson invented the metrosexual, but Salzman nicked him), she just creates a non-hype, such as the uber-sexual. Of course he exists, he has always done. The uber-sexual is a man who drinks beer, who will soon be sequestered in front of the box for the football world cup. Bavaria is claiming him, but of course Amstel does too. Want to bet that soon Heineken too will have its own uber-manly world cup fan?

The faux-retro PR con is so unoriginal it’s jawbreaking in its predictability.  Even its hypocrisy is second hand.  Maxim magazine should sue.

Last year this glossy magazine for metro frat-boys in denial ran a ‘Mantropy’ anti-metro campaign complete with bumper stickers and T-shirts, which also asserted that it was time for men to be men again and fight the epidemic of men ‘turning into women’. As James Whittall at menessentials.com pointed out, this noble, spirited defence of ‘real’ masculinity came:

…from the magazine that offers its own privately labeled brand of men’s home hair coloring products. From the magazine whose pages offer up soft-porn advertising images of fruit smoothie blenders, manicure sets, lightly tinted sunglasses, and tubes of alcohol-free hair gel with hydrolyzed wheat protein. From the magazine whose manager of brand development, Barry Pincus, went on record as saying, “Guys are more conscious of their appearance…It’s really a sign of maturity to some degree. Guys are more willing to experiment, more willing to take some risks, in a more casual way.”*

For more background read Metrodaddy v. Ubermummy