The Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis. Combining innovative architecture and some of the best theater in the country in a hub of frat-boy manliness?

The Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis: Combining innovative architecture and some of the best theater in the country in a hub of frat-boy manliness?

Hello, everyone.  Just letting you know that I am still breathing, and, not only that, I intend to keep this blog breathing (or at least spewing out words). I’ve just been hunkering down and working on internship writing samples/searching for places that might be interested in taking me on as an intern. Life gets in the way of blogging sometimes, which is, I suppose, as it should be.

In any case, I figured I’d leave you this little snack (ha. ha. ha.) that I found via Shakesville. I think it not only serves to illustrate how marketers are trying to package manliness, but the danger of not asking where your information comes from.

Mars Brand Snack Foods, in order to promote their COMBOS® brand cheese-filled snack, did a pseudo-scientific ranking of the Manliest Cities in the US (See the article on Marketwatch.com). You see, a city’s “manliness” can apparently can be determined by its concentration of sports bars, professional sports teams, hardware stores, and BBQ restaurants. Perhaps the most telling criterion of a city’s manliness though, is “manly salty snacks consumption.” In other words, cities where more people eat cheesy Combos snacks (and watch NASCAR, which Combos sponsors), are skewed to be more manly.

Therefore, those men who live in such effeminite cities as Portland or San Francisco (#47 and 48, respectively, out of fifity. I feel a strange surge of pride here.), can save their masculinity by buying more Combos cheese pretzels:

“As the ultimate hearty snack, COMBOS(R) created the Ultimate Man Zone Sweepstakes to give guys the opportunities to improve their favorite hangouts,” said Craig Hall, general manager, Mars Snackfood US. “Through our COMBOS(R) ‘America’s Manliest Cities’ study, we want to let guys know where their hometowns stack up against their brethren coast-to-coast when it comes to manliest.”

While it’s too late for men to raise their city’s manliness ranking this year, men from every city still have the chance to raise the level of their man gear by entering the COMBOS(R) Ultimate Man Zone Sweepstakes at www.COMBOS.com. The entry deadline is May 31, 2009. (From the Marketwatch article linked at the top of the post)

Being just out of college, I feel disgusting quoting something without explaining what I’ve just showed, but, really, I can only offer this simple translation: Eat our cheese pretzels or be a woman!

Yet I’ve seen this “study” quoted various places (not just the ones that Shakesville lists, such as The Chicago Tribune), that do not qualify it with the fact that it is a marketing ploy. The whole thing is about marketing, not manliness.

I’m tempted to launch in to a discussion of the geographical bias, and possible “coastal effeminate urban intellectual” bashing implied in the study, but I promised I’d keep this short.

Also, as someone who went to school in Minnesota (one of the most underrated states in the nation, I must say,) I have to laugh that they rank Minneapolis as #18. They clearly didn’t take into account the city’s incredible theater scene (one of the best in the nation), modern dance scene (again, incredible.), famous art museums, and other such less-than-manly (by their definition) institutions such as The Mall of America (though I guess that’s technically outside the city. Not that I believe that these things are necessarily effeminate—I’m just going by their standards.

The moral of the story is that marketers seem to be clamping on to current anxieties surrounding masculinity. They are also getting sneakier with their viral marketing, in this case disguising it as social science. And when people claim to do demographic surveys, find out who conducted them, and what questions they asked. Please.

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