Advertising in contemporary American society is one measure that captures the trends

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interests and priorities of the population. Primarily designed to sell merchandise, these
commercials are cleverly constructed and designed to appeal not only to empirical deliberation
of the product’s value but also to the subconscious desires and basic instincts of the human
animal. Beer commercials are a classic example of these concepts. Since 2006, commercials for
the beer Dos Equis have featured a character called, “The most interesting man in the world.” A
departure from most advertising techniques that feature a youth based marketing concept, the
Dos Equis commercial star is a man in his late 50’s or 60’s who possesses wealth, style,
machismo, and all of the intangible masculinity features of James Bond. A careful analysis of
“the most interesting man in the world” reveals interesting clues about the attributes, morals, and
aspirations of society in general and men in particular.
While there are far too many Dos Equis commercials featuring “the most interesting man
in the world” to be included here, all of them share a common design. The commercials usually
contain three flashback scenes portraying the man in his youth completing tasks that are either
herculean, bold courageous stunts, or momentous accomplishments. A cultured and intelligent
male narrator’s voice takes the viewer on a whirlwind tour through the video medley with
statements that herald the man’s ability and promote the ease at which he achieves greatness.
The commercials conclude with “the most interesting man in the world” seated at a table
surrounded by beautiful women. In a conversational tone, he dispenses his advice to the viewer
that, “I don’t always drink beer….but when I do, I prefer Dos Equis.” The commercial I will
analyze is titled “Swimming, Sledding, Saving and Surgery” and can be found on the Dos Equis
website.
The first scene is the man at his current age, impeccably dressed in a formal suit,
approaching a mansion on a dog sled. The sled contains his matched luggage and it is snowing
lightly. The man hands the reins of the sled to the doorman and as he walks through the door, he
makes a gesture with his left hand and one of his sled dogs joins him. Through the door, you can
view an elegant party taking place. The narrator states, “the last time he flirted with
danger….danger got clingy.”
The next scene is a flash back to when the man was younger, perhaps late twenties or
early thirties. A policeman is giving directions to traffic in the foreground and in the background
you can see what appears to be a building on fire. The man is dressed in a brown suit and is
supporting an injured limping fireman with his left arm and carrying a clear fishbowl containing
a bright orange goldfish. Another fireman approaches to take the injured fireman while the man
hands the fishbowl to a woman whose back is to the camera. It’s clear from the portrayal that the
man has saved both the fish and the fireman. The commentary for this scene is, “he once
received a standing ovation……from a juror’s box”.
For the third scene, the man (once again in his 60s or 70s) is sitting in the observatory of
an operating room viewing a surgery. He is surrounded by people dressed in long white lab
coats. An Asian man sits on one side of him while the other seat contains a very attractive red
haired woman who appears to be in her late 20s or early 30s. The surgeon looks up in a
questioning manner from the operating table and the man makes a disapproving shake of his
head. The surgeon immediately changes his surgical tool and checks the man’s reaction. The
man gives an approving nod of his head and a salutary finger point for emphasis.
All of the scenes feature in this Dos Equis contain many cultural themes that could be
discussed, but I will focus on the following three: patriarchy, machismo, and a hybridization of
the worship of youth based culture. Patriarchy can be defined as “the manifestation and
institutionalization of male dominance over women and children in the family and the extension
of male dominance over women in society in general.” (Lerner, Creation of Patriarchy) The
patriarch dominates all those individuals around him and maintains his power and influence by
subjugating females and younger males. In the Dos Equis commercials, the man is portrayed as
a locus of power and influence, controlling all aspects of those individuals around him. In the
fireman scene, the man assists an injured fireman and saves the fish of a woman. The fireman is
dressed in all of his protective gear, and the man is neatly dressed in a brown suit. This implies
that the man is superior to the fireman because he entered the burning building, rescued a fish,
and saved a weaker male. The interaction between the man and female owner of the fish is more
subtle, yet reinforces patriarchy ideas. The woman is powerless and helpless to save her own
fish, while the man offers protection, safety and security.
Machismo can be defined as, “an attitude, quality or way of behaving that agrees with
traditional ideas about men being very strong and aggressive.” (“Machismo”) In the first scene,
the man demonstrates his machismo by driving up to the party with on a dog sled in a blowing
snow storm. The man is so strong that he needs no coat or warm clothing to brave the cold icy
conditions. He shows his alpha male qualities by controlling a sled dog with just a wave of his
hand. When the narrator states, “the last time he flirted with danger….danger got clingy”, the
masculinity of the man is reinforced to such a high level, that forces of nature are reduced to
subordinate one-sided relationships with him.
It is not difficult to discover explicit or implicit reinforcement of patriarchy and
machismo in most beer commercials. This usually coincides with the idealization of youth based
ideals and sexual attractiveness. The Dos Equis commercials are different in this respect because
they feature an older man in their commercials to attract consumers to their product. The
designer of the commercial takes a very subtle hybrid approach designed to attract both older and
younger males to the brand of Dos Equis beer. The “most interesting man” is displayed in
scenes that depict his exploits as a young and older man. The first scene where the man is on a
dogsled old provides a visual example to young and older consumers of the privileges of wealth
and power. The second scene where the man saves both a goldfish and a fireman provides an
example for younger men of how to exhibit alpha male behavior. Yet because the scene is shot
as a flashback, an older consumer will not be threatened. Instead the older consumer is invited to
reminisce nostalgically about their youthful exploits as well. The third scene as well as the final
scene offer powerful imagery that invoke and enhance the benefits of patriarchy and machismo.
In both scenes, the man is pictured with beautiful women who don’t speak. The man is centered
in the frames and other men are presented off to the side or in clearly subordinate roles. The dual
message transmits to both young and older beer drinkers that the choice of Dos Equis beer will
result in the receipt of power, style, elevated status, sex appeal, and the domination of women
and other men.
The Dos Equis commercials featuring the “most interesting man in the world” reinforce
patriarchy, machismo, and a hybrid ideal of youth based culture worship. Public advertising in
America society is designed to capture the trends, interests and priorities of the population.
Sadly, the analysis of “the most interesting man in the world” commercials reveal that despite
significant technological advances, the culture and priorities of a patriarchal social structure still
exist. Appealing to the base instincts of humanity not only works, but can also be harnessed to
sell a lot of beer.


Works Cited
Lerner, Gerda. The creation of patriarchy. New York: Oxford University Press, 1986. Print.
“Machismo." Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 19 Apr. 2014.
<http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/machismo>.