Men in television advertising are often portrayed as barely sentient morons, emasculated husbands, or literate cavemen. So in other words, according to many of my friends of the fairer sex, accurately. But over the last couple of years, any couch potato worth his bacon can't help but notice Madison Avenue has taken a few baby steps toward the old-school masculinity we like to think our fathers exhibited when they were splashing on the Hai Karate and letting their chest hair flourish. Maybe it's the nostalgic influence of Mad Men.
But the problem in current advertising is that a lot of these commercials--and by implication society--still can't agree on the male ideal. That's where I come in. After thousands of hours of watching TV and surfing YouTube over the past year, I've culled half a dozen commercials or campaigns that illustrate as a group the mostly sorry--but mildly hopeful--state of men in advertising today. I'll judge them here, in no particular order, by the only manliness standard that counts: mine. (Though I did save the best for last.)