Friday, June 03, 2005

Ruh Roh!

Asian cosmetic ads star soft men:
HONG KONG -- The new face of cosmetics ads in Asia is soft, delicate -- and male.

Lounging in a pink apartment in a television commercial for Able C&C Inc.'s South Korean makeup brand Missha, actor Won Bin leans in as if to kiss a woman sitting next to him -- but he does her bidding instead, taking her dusky-colored lipstick and carefully applying it to her lips.

In an ad for skin-care chain The Face Shop, ruby-lipped film star Kwon Sang Woo nuzzles a berry tree, then dons a crown of leaves. Mr. Kwon, famous for six-pack abs and a slight lisp, "has a kind of neutral gender," says Scott Han, the company's public-relations director. "Our customers think he is healthy and adorable."

Marketers aren't out to poke fun at the lipstick lads of Asia. Instead, they are pushing shampoos and makeup by tapping into a powerful shift in gender images taking place in a number of developed East Asian countries. The conservative, macho male stereotypes that have long dominated society in countries like Japan and South Korea are falling out of fashion. Women are gaining power and independence and expressing a preference for different kinds of men.

"A pretty face with big eyes and fair skin, and a moderately masculine body, are what Korean women want in men these days," says Rhie Hye Young, a spokeswoman for Missha.
I guess we don't have to worry about Asian overpopulation.
But in the pages of the magazines and flashing across the screens, the change among young men is unmistakable. One ad for Somang Cosmetics Co.'s Color Lotion featured two male celebrities, one shirtless, bumping into each other and then slowly admiring each other's faces. "What skin!" says one man. Another ad, for LG Household & Health Care Ltd.'s Vonin men's makeup, had actor Jang Dong Gun nuzzling and kissing an image of himself.
Indeed, men have shown that they are willing to change their appearance to project the new kind of manliness women want. While hair dyes have been quietly popular with older male Korean and Japanese politicians for years, today some male executives in those countries stride the corridors of power in skin-tone makeup.
We don't see too many of those down at the bait shop. More marketing blather by following the link.

(Hat tip: FR)

Update: Here I am making fun of these androgynous Asian ads and Michelle Malkin points to a Mona Charen article about Hi, the US State Department's "outreach" magazine for Arab youth. that could teach the marketeers a metrosexual trick or two. I guess the joke's on us. Again.