How Macho Sporto upped the ante with the 'female gaze'

By flipping the genders of the gazer and the gazed in the ad, the brand has subverted traditional male-dominated narratives in the men's innerwear space

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Oct 8, 2021 1:56 PM
Rashmika Mandanna

Back in 2007, Amul Macho took the path less travelled with the memorable TOING ad. The unconventional spot dared to focus on female desire, straying away from the conventional male-centric narratives. It went on to become one of the most talked-about campaigns for a long time. The jingle "Yeh toh bada TOING hai" also happened to enjoy great recall among the viewers.

Over a decade later, the brand has again gone down the same subversive path with two new TVCs for Macho Sporto with, in the brand's own words, "a commitment to legitimise the female gaze."

The ads feature south actress Rashmika Mandanna and Vicky Kaushal. The former plays a fitness instructor who can't help gazing at her student Kaushal who is incidentally wearing Macho Sporto in class. He catches onto her playful efforts and obliges her requests every time.

With the ad crossing 10 million views in two weeks on Instagram, it's safe to say that it's creating a lot of buzz on the internet.

“This is for the first time a leading actress has been cast in an ad for a menswear product,” the company officials said. Staying true to its subversive streak, the brand has focussed on a bold topic like the female gaze. The ad has been conceptualised by creative agency Leo Burnett and promoted by media agency Madison Media Omega.

Navinn Seksaria, MD of JG Hosiery, the parent company of Macho Sporto says, “We are reviving our iconic campaign, ‘Yeh Toh Bada Toing Hai’, with a modern and trendier avatar of our brand."

Seksaria points out that by putting a woman at the helm of an ad for an innerwear brand, the brand intends to encapsulate the idea of an empowered woman. She is bold enough to gaze at a man she feels attracted to, a far cry from the bashful women of the yesteryears. 

"This is probably the first time where a men’s wear brand is showing a woman taking the lead," says Rajdeepak Das, CEO & Chief Creative Officer – South Asia, Leo Burnett. “We wanted to address and break regressive old fashioned gender stereotypes through our campaign."

With brands being increasingly aware of the changing gender discourse, adland has been witnessing many progressive spots in the recent past. 

"Typically innerwear brands portray conventional male-dominant imagery," says Das, "but our films depict a role reversal where we normalize and make the woman in control. The films are light-hearted and have the brands signature tongue-in-cheek humour with Vicky and Rashmika playing their onscreen roles perfectly.”

"Breaking patriarchal stereotypes, the campaign intends to highlight how today’s women don’t hesitate in making the first move. What better than a male underwear brand to convey this message and begin a fresh conversation," says Seksaria.

By presenting men as the subject of the gaze rather than its object, Macho Sporto is well on its way to break stereotypes.

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