Why Do Commercials Think Men Are Idiots?

Perhaps you’ve seen this commercial for Klondike. In it, a tubby bozo named Mark is forced to listen for 5 seconds as his wife engages him in a conversation about painting a room in their home. This is, for some reason, nearly impossible for Mark to endure, as he breaks into a sweat and looks like he wishes he ate a more fiber-rich diet.

Almost nothing offends us, but this commercial manages to do the trick. We have no problem acknowledging the fact that dudes sometimes act like babies and cavemen — in fact, we think it’s pretty funny. It’s when we’re told that men think women are vapid harpies whom we struggle to tolerate that we get offended. (Although in this commercial’s case, it’s tough for us to decide who should be more pissed: men, women, or polar bears who make ice cream.)

We’re not the only ones who get annoyed when ads portray dudes as cartoonish dumbasses. A recent University of Illinois study found that “advertisers are alienating men and women because they continue to use outdated gender stereotypes in their advertising.” What does that mean exactly? “A lot of ads directed at males are still dominated by ‘The Player,’ ‘The Beer Drinker,’ or ‘The Buddy,'” explains study co-author Cele Otnes. “But those stereotypes don’t actually fit the vast majority of males. Advertisers and marketers need to broaden the spectrum, and create campaigns centered on more of the actual roles that men play.”

Actually, we’re okay being portrayed as buddies, beer drinkers, and even players. Just not as slobs who hate women.