Is Ugly The New Edgy?

Is Ugly The New Edgy?

By: Shelly Kramer
July 6, 2010

Marc Jacobs Jacket and Ugly Model

I came across this Marc Jacobs ad in a posh and trendy fashion mag the other day and felt compelled to comment. I mean, seriously, what’s going on here? Is ugly the new edgy? Does anyone – at Marc Jabobs, or anywhere else, think that this image of a puny, scruffy, not-at-all-attractive dude in a pair of tighty whities is going to inspire anything but a quick turn of the page?

At the risk of making a sweeping generalization, I’ll go out on a limb here and say that men in tighty whities are a turnoff. I believe I speak for all humanity on this issue. Or at least I speak for women of all ages and pretty much for the gay community at large. Fine. Wear them if you must, but don’t subject any of us to the sight of you in them. Ever.

Especially not when there are so many choices. Comfy and chic boxer briefs. The always highly recommended traditional boxer. Sleek and sexy trou like those sported by Dustin “Duke” Dlouhy for Glamour. Those make for nice, emmmm, browsing.

Dustin Duke Hottie

Surely you get my point. The Duke might not be your style when it comes to potential dating material, but there is no question he is rocking those skivvies.

Conversely, the image used by Marc Jacobs to sell what is no doubt a great leather jacket – just doesn’t work for me. Ugly is not edgy. Ugly does not capture my attention. Ugly does not make me momentarily want to run away to Fiji with one of those hot hunka lunkas – if only for a week (moment). And, most importantly, ugly does not make me want to purchase. And isn’t that the whole point?

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  • Shelly Kramer

    I’m with you, baby. You should have seen the eyeballs focused on me at the hair salon as I ripped this ad out. Kind of similar to the way that your eyes glazed over when you discovered the Sperm Shoes :))))

  • Huh – and to think I missed the marketing coup to be achieved by hiring a heroin addict and a former UFC fighter as models. I'll bet they were a shitload cheaper than hiring one of those *real* models from Ford.

    Ugly doesn't sell me. Ugly isn't catchy. Occasionally, ugly is revealing and intriguing. In this case, it's just an ad agency that needs to be fired.

  • Perhaps a male model like this is in response to women's complaints about all all of our super-skinny, cellulite-free, flawless female model counterparts. LOL.

    But you're right. Those white undies make me wanna lose my lunch. GROSS.

  • Shelly,
    I have to think about this one for a while. Is the guy (not talking about the tighty whiteys) ugly? Or ordinary? If we don't want our daughters to get caught up in unattainable catwalk style beauty and as Moms we know that many of our (or at least other people's) daughters will be ordinary looking or choose grunge as their style, then should we be calling them or a male model ugly? How many boys and men look or can look like “Duke”? Do our husbands or ex-husbands?
    To Reds' point about the heroin addict look, you'd find many of those at the Ford Agency but they'd still be part of the so-called beautiful people.
    What I find very disturbing about all this, is the recognition of how brainwashed I've been by the media as to what constitutes a male model. whispering: he's not it. BUT, I want our standards of beauty to include a much wider, human range. #timetomeditate #timetoaskforgiveness #timeforchocolate

  • It would appear that I need to buy new underwear.

  • fjfonseca

    Hi Shelly,
    Great post as usual but this time I am not going to agree with you.
    “And, most importantly, ugly does not make me want to purchase. And isn’t that the whole point?”

    No, the whole point is to generate buzz and, your post, is a great example that the strategy is working.
    Usually the clothing pieces shown on any advertising for a luxury brand are not even available to the general public and are limited editions that only a few selected customers can get.

    The whole point of these adverts, like the point of almost 80% of the items shown at a catwalk, are to show the vision of the designer, to catch attention to the brand and not to the item itself.

    On one point I do agree with you: men in tighty whities are YUCKIE! 😀

  • ShellyKramer


    I know you're passionate about image, but that's not what I'm addressing here. I'm coming at this from a marketing perspective. And, as a marketer, and someone who people hire to help them sell more stuff to more people, putting a scruffy looking, unsmiling guy in a pair of what appear to be dingy tighty whities does not help sell a kick ass leather coat. No way, no how.

    I know what people look like. I see myself in the mirror daily. I have a husband. He is not built even remotely like either one of these models. And still, I love him.

    So, for me, this post is not at all about body image and awareness and all that stuff – and I agree with you on many of your points about this – it is about the strategy that is behind putting this kind of an image out there in an effort to sell more stuff to more people.

    And, in my opinion, that is a misstep.

    Thanks for always being a part of the discussion … you're fantastic.

  • ShellyKramer

    Ha! I doubt that was their strategy, Erin. I'm thinking that someone in their marketing department actually liked this look. Blech.

  • ShellyKramer

    Yes. You. Do.

  • ShellyKramer


    I love it when you disagree. And buzz is terrific, if all you want is for people to tear apart your marketing strategy and figure out whether you've been successful at creating buzz. Which is what we're doing. Me, I think that most “typical” consumers will see this ad and never, not for one moment, think about buying that kickass jacket. I think they will rush to turn the page as quickly as I did – unless, of course, they are marketers.

    And I agree totally about vision of designers, catwalk strategies, etc., I just don't think this translates to this particular print campaign.

    And thank GOD you don't wear tighty whities. But then, I would've guessed that.

  • fjfonseca

    I can't say I didn't wear one of those.. but I was young, I was in Paris, Fashion week had just ended, I was drunk and high.. and she was german LOL

  • landa

    Who was it that said: Most of us look better with our clothes on?

  • Ally

    No, no, no, no! I don't care what their strategy was. Unless I scroll back up, I cannot tell you what the jacket looked like. Because I, too, was completely turned off by the tighty-whities. And yes, there's the whole we've-been-brainwashed-by-media to judge what looks good. I totally agree. But the fact of life is, that ad is not going to sell jackets. Or anything else.

  • You took the words out of my mouth. I've often thought that when looking at many of the ads in Vogue. Remember “heroin chic”? What genius thought of THAT?! And I don't care if runway shows are meant to show the “vision” of the designer. If that vision looks like a nightmare, I'm un-sold. Getting attention is one thing. Being repulsive is another. The point of advertising is to attract, not repel. Otherwise, donate the money to charity or pay your people better.

  • Alex

    I'll say it: it's stupid.

  • Shelly, I have to laugh now. I so saw it from my personal perspective related to body image stuff that I lost sight of what's being sold. And the best or worst part is I thought it was the underpants because (this is not about what it sounds like) that's were my eye was drawn. Nothing else stood out for me. (OMG, that's another double entendre)
    Thank you also for your candid responses to me. Cherry

  • Two things…I agree with FF that this has created some serious buzz, which I think is the point. But I also agree with you that the dude is not attractive and no woman wants to see a man in whitey tighties. Now I will be going back to watching Jacob without his shirt on in Eclipse.

  • It's not a good look. Ever. Throw a hot guy (or girl) in the jacket and some great jeans and people will stop and look. But white underpants? Um, no. Can the ad agency and hire someone with their pants ON.

  • ShellyKramer

    Yes, Landa. We most certainly do!

  • ShellyKramer

    German? That explains everything.

  • ShellyKramer

    Yes. You. Do.

  • ShellyKramer

    Go ahead, Gini. I am watching the new werewolf on True Blood without HIS shirt on and I am incapable of coherent thought.

  • ShellyKramer

    Yes it is, Alex.

  • These pictures are cracking me up! The first guy looks like some kind of addict out on a bad bender in a mug shot.

    But I agree with @fjfonseca these are meant to create buzz and they are doing that. I just read Buyology and will never look at marketing the same again.

  • ShellyKramer

    Amen sistah! Couldn't have said it better myself.

  • ShellyKramer

    Hi Ally,

    Gotta say, I'm with you. All the way. I'm in the business of creating buzz and, for me, this is a fail. Thanks for stopping by :))

  • ShellyKramer

    Love your double entendres, sweets!!