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L’Oreal Targets (My) Middle-Aged Male Anxiety

The huge French cosmetic company L’Oreal have been making a beardy push for the middle aged male consumer still holding out not very convincingly against metrosexuality this Christmas. Or perhaps his wife.

The above ad for their Men Expert Hydra Energetic moisturiser, so hysterically butch it seems to have been directed by Guy Ritchie, features a furry Gerard Butler (40) reassuring us that there’s absolutely nothing poofy or passive about moisturiser — with much the same success he had in convincing us there was nothing gay about 300.

On one level the ad suggests that moisturiser is something that men need in direct proportion their… manliness. That being a chap and playing rugby and boxing and gambling and jumping over cars on a motorbike, all in a really gruff Scottish accent, are just inconceivable without a really good moisturiser. But this is just the candy-coating. In fact, the central message of this ad is the same as a female cosmetic ad: that Men Expert Hydra Energetic will make you look and feel younger. Especially now that you’re getting too long in the tooth for most of the things Gerard is doing in the ad. As the strapline at the bottom of the screen tells you:

‘For skin that looks dull, feels dry, rough, tight & less firm.’

In other words: OLD.

But because this is a product marketed to men, anxiety about middle-age is cast as an action-packed adventure. So L’Oreal exhorts you to:

‘Fight five signs of fatigue’.

In other words: AGEING.

More generally, it’s always amusing to see moisturiser being sold by bearded men. After all, beards and moisturiser don’t really mix well – and one inexpensive way to look less ‘rough’ would be to shave the beard off. But instead we are supposed to tend our immaculate manly beards and the skin underneath them. Being a guy these days is sometimes twice as complicated as being a gal.

In the ad below a bristly Eric Cantona (44) promotes L’Oreal’s ’48 hour’ deodorant with a slightly lighter touch – and a play on his reputation as a hothead during his time at Manchester United Football Club (when the young David Beckham was observing and absorbing the Cantona cult close up). That said, ’48 hour’ deodorant is an odd concept, and not one I would instantly associate with L’Oreal – or Eric Cantona. After all, it does rather suggest you’re not showering or washing every day….

But again, it seems they’re giving middle-aged men (the ones, like me, old enough to remember Eric) permission to buy premium male cosmetics by pretending that the product has a special utility and vitality – it lasts twice as long as other deodorants, so it’s worth twice the money.

It’s even got an extra large ball.

Let’s face it. Stamina isn’t what it used to be for us over 40s. Even  Eric Ooh-La-La Cantona. Who here has his big virile bunch of flowers cruelly emasculated into a single stubby bloom.

One rejected scornfully even by an elderly woman with no teeth.