Wednesday, April 05, 2006


Aqua Velva

This morning, B asked if I was going to shower and shave. B is convinced that my inner desire to transform myself into a smelly, hairy hermit will take over unless it is checked by her constant monitoring. I said, “yes, I’m going to shower and shave and use Aqua Velva.”

Aqua Velva is an “after-shave” that has been around for decades. It was much more heavily marketed on TV ads when I was a kid, and its jingles and slogans are apparently embedded in my unconscious mind. “Shower and shave and use Aqua Velva” was one of their slogans.

And I can still here their jingle: “Feel like a man! Because there’s something about an Aqua Velva man!”

Why, I ask myself today, this shrill, almost desperate repetition of the word “man” in the ads? And it pops into my head that I recently saw a TV commercial for some liquid deodorant soap for men, where the whole shtick was a posse of guys insisting that the soap was manly. (“It comes in a bottle that looks like an oil can!”) Maybe it was even an ad for Irish (“Manly yes, but I like it too!”) Spring.

The answer is pretty obvious. Apparently men want perfume. We want to put perfume on after shaving. We want scented soaps. But perfume and scented soaps being reserved only for women, the advertizing campaigns have to spend all their time reassuring men that they can use the stuff without being "pussies." So perfume is called “cologne,” and it's applied by “slapping it on.”

I never understood after-shave. As a naive 16-year-old initiate into the rites of shaving, I had some lingering notion that after-shave was somehow medically indicated to "protect the skin" or "seal the pores." Once I figured out that that was mere advertizing malarky, it started to dawn on me that after-shave was nothing more or less than perfume -- perfume given a manly edge by virtue of its alcohol content, which made it sting freshly shaved skin. ("Perfume that doesn't hurt is for pussies!")

Well, when you think about it, why stop at perfume? Why not cosmetics? There are undoubtedly teams of marketing researchers buried away in the R and D laboratories of advertizing agencies working on this problem. I bet that selling makeup to men is the holy grail of marketing: the Madison Avenue equivalent of discovering a cure for cancer.

now I have that stupid jingle stuck in my head. I'm going to have to listen to the badger badger badger song - it's the only one guaranteed to eradicate other earworms.

fflzecwn (fef-el-zek-wun) The first point scored in the game of "ffl" which involves herding soap bubbles towards a goal.
too late. cosmetics for men is already a thriving business:


txtacq-- tax attack -- another name for the ides of april
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