Soft Masculinity Symbols in Local Skincare Brand’s Advertising

Authors: Agustinus Rusdianto Berto , Oliver (Universitas Multimedia Nusantara) 
Speakers: Agustinus Rusdianto Berto
Strand: Semiotics and Semiology
Session Type: General Session


Creating advertisements is a process of sharing and building social culture. It reflects a cultural construction through mass consumption. Beauty advertising is often associated with the image of a beautiful woman, because it sells beauty and self-esteem. The phenomenon of the man as a beauty product model is relatively new practice in Indonesian marketing. This context is used by Everwhite as the first local beauty brand to choose South Korean actor, Kim Seon Ho as their brand ambassador. This study uses Sun Jung’s soft masculinity strategy and Roland Barthes’ work on semiotics to analyze the signs and their language, and to compare these with Indonesian masculinity symbolisms. The results showed that soft masculinity in the advertisement consisted of tender charisma, purity, and politeness. Tender charisma is represented in the dress up, dating, and product recommendations scenes. Purity is represented in a playdate scene with cute actions (aegyo). The politeness is shown by the behavior of the actor who opens the door for his fans. Through this advertisement, using skincare is also promoted to men. However, due to the different constructions of masculinity in Indonesia, skincare activities are still taboo for men. Indonesian masculinity is still associated with power, strength, and patriarchal system. Men tend to be portrayed in Indonesian media as macho, brave, adventurous creatures, rather than showing soft and sensitive side. Based on the context of the advertisement, the audience in Indonesia will negotiate with the embodiment of soft masculinity while still grounding the reception process to hegemonic masculinity in Indonesia, such as focusing on features that are acceptable to society.

Keywords: representation, soft masculinity, advertising, culture, semiotics of Roland Barthes