Image credits: naijaexclusive.net

How big a deal is it if I’m a guy and I don’t drink? Not much? Well, think again.

Adverts fascinate me. It’s not just because I work in the media and have a strong affinity for brands and how they tell their stories, it’s because they strike us mentally in areas we are not even aware of. It’s also because in telling brand stories and appealing to the target, adverts conform to certain socio-cultural beliefs. Put simply, some adverts remind us of what we know; they bring ideas to the surface and reinforce them.

Which was why I called out our irrational preference for male kids over female ones and the societal problems we have as a result through one of the early MTN adverts, mama na boy. Beautiful campaign idea but it was passively reinforcing a wrong mentality.

At this point, let me state that my talking about certain adverts in this light isn’t to shade the brands. It’s to speak to prevalent cultural misnomers and also awaken brands to put better thought into their campaign ideas/messages.

Because, political correctness.

So moving on, in one of our regular forays through the length and breadth of Lagos in search of daily bread, I saw a billboard ad for an alcohol brand with the text, “NA MAN YOU BE!”

Simply put, “You’re the man!”

Which on face value is not a bad thing at all but I’m like, “Wait, what?”

I was just wondering what the ad was saying.

“You’re the man so you deserve this.”

“You’re the man, if you’re not drinking this you’re a pussy.”

“Our drink is the only yardstick for measuring manliness.”

Or put simply, “Our brand of alcohol is better, iyalaya everybody.”

What exactly?

So you mean that if I don’t drink this, I’m not ‘correct’?

Well I don’t know, it just didn’t sit right with me. Call it nitpicking but all this “Na man you be” wey we just dey shout upandan, who e don ever epp? Simply reinforces irresponsible and insensitive behaviour to me. Because every time we’ve been told this “You’re a man,” thing in relation to our socio-cultural context, it was to further entrench the male entitlement mentality.

“You’re a man so you can do anyhow.”

And yes, I drink so just in case you’re thinking, “Is it because he doesn’t drink? Perish that thought. I love my beer, spirits and cocktails. A female friend of mine is likes her Guinness so I can’t even explain it away by saying that the beer in question isn’t for women. Heck, even my ice cream preferences are 18+ rated so that’s not why I’m saying this. Just think about it.

We know what we are; we don’t need to be reminded. It’s just part of the nonsensical, “A real man should…” this, “A real woman should” that.

Why can’t we just be people who just do stuff and like stuff because we want to, and not because we’re told that because of one kini, we should?

Why can’t we just be… people?

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