Are you looking for a way to take something that is traditionally considered feminine and make it hypermasculine beyond belief? Look no further than Alphanail, the online nail polish retailer for “men and fighters.”
Alphanail is, as the name suggests, a line of nail polish for “alpha males” (see what they did there?). Available in colors as varied as “concrete,” “gasoline,” and “cocaine,” the polish goes on with a pen-style applicator that “does away with those dainty little brushes and girly nail polish containers” and comes off with a swipe of what I can only assume is nail polish remover in a jar, because, “No self respecting man should ever have to buy cotton balls.”
If you detect a hint of bullying in that copy, you’re right. Since this is a product for men exclusively, Alphanail is choosing to take the Man Up approach to advertising by basically bossing men into buying it, suggesting that they aren’t manly enough if they don’t. This masculinity bullying is heightened here (as it is with light beer and diet soda) because nail polish is a product typically marketed to women and thus the “do this or you’re a sissy” message needs to be cranked up to 11 to avoid any pesky gender confusion.
Of course, avoiding gender confusion is a primary goal of a campaign like this one, and Alphanail is choosing to make something really masculine seem cool by putting down things that are feminine in the process (read: women). The message becomes: “We aren’t girly like other nail polishes. We’re manly. Being girly is the fucking WORST amirite?” It’s not enough for Alphanail to say that they make nail polish for men, they have to say that they make nail polish for men who are in no way feminine. Straight, macho, aggressive, “alpha” men.
It goes without saying, probably, that Alphanail is also kind of weird. While it’s one thing to market nail polish to men, it’s quite another to market nail polish—a fairly innocuous product if you ask me—as something really aggressive and sexual. The Alphanail website puts a lot of emphasis on fighters as a target demographic, and even calls nail polish “war paint” that men can wear into their daily “battles.” In fact, “BATTLE” is one of the six reasons (numbered two through seven, for no apparent reason) they give for buying Alphanail polish. Here are two more:
SEX. Get more of it. On a beach. With fake tattoos. While one of your partners looks super sad.
STYLE. For when you are clearly, creepily photobombing your date.
I understand that in this economy people are trying to make money any way they can, and if a handful of UFC athletes have been seen wearing nail polish then, hey, why not capitalize on that with a nail polish for “men and fighters”? (Side note: why they’re making this distinction is beyond me, since this product is clearly intended for men only. Are they hoping to tap into the female fighter market? If so, they ought to consider different graphics.) What I don’t understand is the need to make this product so aggressively masculine. Can’t the neutral colors and easy application technique (which I, as an unskilled nail painter am intrigued by, I’ll admit) cut it without tying Alphanail to a problematic “dominant fighter” narrative? Don’t men face enough pressure to be aggressive, misogynistic “alpha” males already?