Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Macho Male Marketing: It All Depends

Tony Siragusa, protector of leaky manhood!

American Television advertising has reached a new high, or low, in blustering pitchman doublespeak. 

The first time I saw the beginning of this thirty second TV spot, I hit the channel-change button because of the loud, irritating fat dude with the real tough Jersey accent. He is wearing a XXXX size logo sweatshirt and barks at the camera standing in his imaginary sports locker room supposedly like a tough coach. I had no idea what he was selling, I just wanted to get away from his grating macho snarl. No luck. The spot had been bought in the same time slot on all three major network news channels.

Full disclosure: I am a diehard NFL New Orleans Saints fan but the name Tony Siragusa didn't immediately ring a bell. Checking back, in the 1990's when Tony was a defensive tackle for the Ravens he was fined ten grand for an illegal hit on Raiders QB Rich Gannon in the 2000 AFC title game. The big guy helped the Ravens to their first Super Bowl in 2001 when they beat the Giants, and then Tony retired from football and took his identity as a real bad ass with him.

After retirement from the NFL most players usually have to keep working. So with his naturally explosive, threatening Jersey-speak he landed a role in the HBO hit, "The Sopranos" as tough guy Frankie Cortese, Tony Soprano's driver and bodyguard.

He also had a role in the movie "25th Hour" as a Ukrainian Mobster. No longer wearing shoulder pads, Tony was still making a living off being a big, mean, loud dude. Even as a Fox Sports NFL sideline announcer, Siragusa has a challenging edge to his old-pro commentary.

Then a couple of weeks ago, Tony hit the airwaves again having been sucked into an ad-agency vortex of bad ideas, flawed focus groups and a puzzling double-speak advertising concept. With great fanfare, Tony is now a spokesperson for Depend disposable absorbent male urinary incontinence underwear pads ... though he doesn't tell you that. Instead, Tony barks his lines about "protecting your manhood" as easily, and illogically as if he were reciting the first stanza of The Jabberwocky.

Urinary incontinence happens most of the time because of a treatable medical condition but men commonly under-report this problem to their doctor.  Being unable to control one's bladder is not at all uncommon but it can be an embarrassing problem. Examples can be as simple as just occasionally leaking urine after sneezing or coughing, or can be as serious as getting an urge to urinate so suddenly that there is not time to get to a toilet.

Urinary incontinence is clearly a medical problem which has nothing whatsoever to do with the one's "Manhood." But Tony's macho ad makes it clear that peeing your pants is a sign of being a wimp.

I later caught the end of Tony's locker room pep talk with its tag line inviting men to go to "guardyourmanhood.com" for more information. There's an internet address for you.  Guard your manhood by wearing absorbent skivvies? Are we under attack by some gender stripping macho munching virus? I went to guardyourmanhood.com only to be re-directed to the Depend adult diaper web site, and Tony's really tacky home page.

Tony is selling real men "Guards" or "Shields" that sort of resemble the rigid sports cup athletes wear to protect their genitalia. But Tony's cups runneth over, on purpose, because they are adhesive absorbent pads that soak up errant urine leakage. The "Guards" apparently soak up more than the "Shields."

Tony's web site scrolls down and down with a series of individual tutorial videos that could have been written for a Saturday Night Live skit. But Tony isn't joking around. He starts out in the first one showing a frilly basket of absorbent pads for women, which look similar to the male underwear pads he is selling. 

As if he was talking to 12 year olds in a pee-wee football squad he growls, "Ladies have their own stuff! This is for girls, not for you!" then Tony violently throws the sissy basket of  "girl stuff" across the room. 

He then turns to two neutral gray cardboard boxes, one with an orange stripe and a larger one with a green stripe. "This is for guys! This is made for men! You don't see any pink do you?" I swear, those are the exact lines he gruffly delivers.

Never is male urinary incontinence mentioned directly. Instead the introduction to Tony's training videos in his "locker room" starts with, 
"So you got some leaks? No big deal. Millions of guys deal with the same thing. Tony Siragusa is here to help you learn how to Guard your Manhood. Step One: Reclaim your bathroom. After that, get to know Guards and Shields for Men."
Leaks in the bathroom? So far this guy ain't giving you any real clues to what this is all about so maybe he's a plumber. He looks like one and fixing the commode would make it possible to reclaim the bathroom.

This almost comical advertising idea and Siragusa's delivery at perhaps a fourth grade comprehension level makes one wonder how any of this can seriously communicate with mature men suffering urinary incontinence ... which is only referred to in this ad tutorial as "leaks." Other slicker, more mature pages on the Depend site are clear and concise about the problem, so what is this mad approach trying to accomplish?

Tony's on-line training camp internet home page is laid out like a discount store closeout newspaper ad. It is plastered with tacky clip art touts to, "Click Here!" - "Chat Online" - "Watch The Commercial!" and "Meet Tony" offers. They even will send you "Free Samples!"

Don't miss this advertising gem before it is discontinued. Click anywhere on the "Scroll Down to Start Your Training" symbol below to go right to Tony's home page. You gotta see this to believe it. Watch all his individual "training" videos . . . they get worse as he goes along.

My favorite in his videos is when he, with no apparent motivation,  turns to a glass-covered framed frilly, colorful floral print on the wall of his locker room, yanks it off, smashes it on the floor and hangs a pair of boxing gloves on the nail to reinforce his macho mandate. This is true golden snicker-time stuff. Pass it around!

Graphics from Kimberly-Clark Depends web site.