THERE ARE many answers to the question of what makes a man. As times change, so do those answers, and a culture of diversity, plurality, and the age of postmodernism has ushered in a new man. Three scorchingly attractive male celebrities — namely: Enchong Dee, Tanner Mata, and Daniel Matsunaga — fill in the blanks of what it takes to be a man for Avon’s new campaign, called “Gentleman Up,” calling for men to embrace different definitions of manhood.
A fashion show on April 11 served to celebrate men of all ages and colors (not necessarily shape; hardly an inch of body fat was seen on the runway), but, hey, at least we’re getting somewhere. Men of different professions also walked the runway: there was theater actor Ian Ignacio, chef Gerick Manalo, photographer Ari Simangan, singer Joshua Bulot, blogger Chuck Aquino, and nurse Clint Karklins. All those men were mostly attractive anyway, and could surely moonlight as models, if they aren’t already.
Little of the show focused on actual clothes, but on men’s underwear. The show was not short of spectacle.
One highlight was seeing an androgynous, muscular model walk the runway in thigh-high, high-heeled sequin boots. He sashayed and won the audience over, and to the cheers of most of the audience, kissed his fiance, who was sitting in the front row, full on the lips,. After which, our model did a twirl — and tripped on his heels — but used the opportunity to slink away seductively, moving and purring like a cat on the prowl. Bravo.
After that, the celebrity endorsers, Messrs. Dee, Mata, and Matsunaga walked down the runway with a solo walk each, and then as a group, escorted by male models all throughout.
GETTING THE MEN INVOLVED
Tisha Rodriguez, Head of Marketing for Avon Philippines, said, “We wanted to get more male endorsers who come from different backgrounds… for us to show that Avon is diverse.”
While Avon is mostly known for its feminine underthings and female-targeted cosmetics, Ms. Rodriguez announces that for many years, Avon has had products that cater to men. “Now is just the right time to communicate it more strongly,” said Ms. Rodriguez.
Meanwhile, Ms. Rodriguez says that while Avon’s direct-selling approach is still strongly in place, they have taken steps to strengthening their e-commerce platform. “This is complementing the way that they do business,” she said, speaking about Avon’s direct sellers. While most people know about the Avon Lady, Ms. Rodriguez points out, “We’re offering opportunities for both men and women.”
WHAT IT TAKES TO BE A MAN (AND AN UNDERWEAR MODEL)
After the show, BusinessWorld caught up with Mr. Dee and Mr. Mata.
Mr. Dee, who is an actor and athlete, said that it was his first time to model briefs — while he has appeared in some of the Bench underwear shows, he usually wore jeans in those. As a swimmer, he said that he didn’t feel odd at all, as he had been competing in swim trunks which are not all that different.
Male models put on, or take off clothes in front of an audience for a living. While most of us would probably faint at the thought of being applauded by audiences while wearing our everyday clothes, imagine the pressure it must take to be seen by dozens, hundreds, even thousands (if you’re on a billboard) without those clothes on. Is it all based on an obligation to do a job right, or is there pleasure in being seen in your skin?
“An obligation? Maybe, just a little bit,” said Mr. Dee. “It’s more of my personal health. I do all these things for my health. The by-product of that is having a good body.” He says he doesn’t go to the gym just to get abs: “I want to go to the gym because I want to live a healthier life.”
As for Avon’s campaign, he says that, “A modern gentleman definitely has kindness.”
As for model Mr. Mata, who was wearing just jeans and a leather harness as we interviewed him, he said, “I actually don’t enjoy taking my clothes off. Usually, it has to be for a good reason. This is kind of promoting, you know, positivity and men’s mental health… it’s a good inspirational message.”
As for being a modern man, he says, “Being a man today is definitely being respectful to everybody, no matter what age, no matter what your beliefs are. Just try to be true to who you are and love people for who they are.” — Joseph L. Garcia