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My name is Andrzej Gorski and I am one of the directors of the Pewex company. I don't have to explain to Polish people what the company is, but for the benefit of people who are in Poland for the first time, I'll explain something of the company.
Purpose – Building on the work of Wenner (2011) and Messner and Montez de Oca (2005), this study provides an updated critical stocktaking of the narrative tendencies in sport-related alcohol advertising on television. Set in contemporary understandings of a ‘crisis of masculinity’ and in the political economy of the alcohol industry, this study anchors a critical reading of masculinity, the sporting context and alcohol advertising in Wenner's (2007, 2013) ‘dirt theory of narrative ethics’.
Design/methodology/approach – Our theoretical and methodological approach is grounded in a dirt theory of narrative ethics. Set at the intersection of reader-oriented literary theory (Iser, 1978) and ethical criticism (Gregory, 1998), we ‘follow the dirt’ to understand how contagion from imported communicative meanings (McCracken, 1990) exerts power (Leach, 1976) by influencing reading and interpretation. We draw upon a diverse sample of 20 television ads representing a balanced cross-section of sport-dirtied beer commercials produced between 2010 and 2019. To balance this sample, we divided the ads by their opposing tendencies to characterize men as either ‘real men’, drawn in mythical masculinity terms, or ‘himbos’, drawn as ‘losers’ or slackers. To address the dominance of Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI) in the American market, we further divided our ‘real men’ and ‘himbo’ samples, contrasting five ads produced for ABI brands with five ads produced for beer brands not held by ABI.
Findings – We contend that contemporary sports-dirtied beer ads combine to form a schizophrenic picture of American manhood. Male sports fans are alternatively hailed through mocking and misandry, through playfully saluting the norms of ‘bro culture’, and through encouraging men to understand themselves as proud keepers of tradition. We critically consider the ethical implications of building brand affinities through staking disparate positions in contemporary cultural and political debates about the place of men and masculinity in contemporary society.
Research limitations/implications – We discuss the difficulties involved in holding advertisers accountable for balancing ethical and market demands. Nevertheless, we call on the industry to engage in a more reflexive and responsible approach to crafting sports-dirtied alcohol advertising.
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The classics will circulate wrote a public librarian several years ago. She found that new, attractive, prominently displayed editions of literary classics would indeed find a substantial audience among public library patrons.