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July 9, 2009

Who Wants A Man Wall?

Awhile ago I wrote about how Cosmo apparently thinks that women only watch sports to make their boyfriends happy, and never because they actually enjoy sports themselves. Apparently, the creators of a new entertainment center for sports fans agree with the Cosmo editors. Behold the Man Wall:

Yes, this thing is actually called a Man Wall. It was developed by a company called Hybrid Space Furniture, and it's got multiple flat-screen HDTVs, a DVD player, ipod deck, microwave, wine rack, sports ticker, built-in beer refrigerator with tap, surround sound, and not one but two cigar humidors. You know, all of the essentials...if you're a man. No girls allowed! We have to stay in the other room and watch Oprah or Sex And The City while the men plan out their NFL Sunday Ticket schedule at the most holy manly Man Wall.

Here are some of the fun phrases that Hybrid Space Furniture uses to sell the Man Wall on their site and in the official press release:
The world’s first Man Wall is the Taj Mahal of man necessities. [Yes, the similarities between this entertainment sports beer cigar insanity thing and the Taj Majal are just endless.]

A Bradenton, Florida company is rolling out the world’s first “Man Wall” and it’s the ultimate big boy toy.

The innovation is the brainchild of two designers who saw a gap in the rising popularity of “Man Rooms.” [There's a gap in the popularity?]

HybridSpace, LLC, the company that manufacturers the unit came up with the idea after realizing that there is nothing on the market for the consumer who wants instant gratification. Currently, you either spend weeks building your own Man Room or pay somebody else to do it for you. Either way, you will be inconvenienced for several weeks while the room is under construction. This is for the guy who doesn’t have the time to build his own man room or simply wants one of the coolest gadgets on the planet. [I can't tell you how many men I know who have this problem.]

“Besides looking like something you would see on MTV Cribs, the Man Wall is extremely practical in that it will fit in almost any size room,” Caruso said. [When I tell you how much this thing costs, the phrase "extremely practical" will be the last one to ever come to mind.]
The amazingly awesomely super cool Man Wall can be yours for the very reasonable price of $14,900, plus the cost of shipping. (And I used to think the NFL Sunday Ticket price tag was a problem, but that's a bargain by comparison. But if anyone wants to contribute to the ESC NFL Sunday Ticket Fund, we're totally cool with that. Well, actually only I'm cool with it, the rest of the ESC couldn't care less about football. You know, cause some women like sports and some women don't, just like some men like sports and some men don't, and why the hell is this still such a hard concept to grasp in 2009?! Okay, I digress, time to close parentheses and get back to making fun of the Man Wall.) In this economy, who doesn't have that kind of extra money laying around, right?

I first read about the Man Wall on Fanhouse.com. (Despite what the Cosmo editors might imagine, I didn't experience some sort of estrogen surge that caused me to close the tab and switch to a pink girly site instead.) Blogger Matt Snyder had some reservations:

After initially taking this all in and thinking about how great it would be, I can't help but wonder how difficult it would be to tailor something your own for much cheaper. They do say on the website they are willing to customize anything you wish, but still, aren't we getting a bit lazy?

As a personal example, I love the keg and tap thing, but I could just as easily settle for walking 25 feet to my fridge for a bottle of suds. I don't smoke cigars. I don't drink wine. While it looks really cool, I'm not sure the score ticker is incredibly necessary, especially since I'd have my computer sitting there with my live fantasy football scores -- which also shows the scores of the real games as well. You could also be watching March Madness on this bad boy, but there are only four games maximum being played at the same time. And I already have a microwave right next to the refrigerator.

So, what if I just grabbed the four TVs, the iPod docking station, a home theater surround sound system and a DVD player? Couldn't I save a ton of money even after purchasing the NFL Sunday Ticket, MLB Extra Innings and NCAA March Madness packages (my own personal choices)? And each of us would have different features we'd like to keep. Some guys might definitely need the humidors but think the DVD player and iPod are unnecessary.
We can't believe he's suggesting that some of these features might not be 100% essential. And to even go farther and say that he's fine with getting up and walking to his kitchen to get food and beer? And that not doing so might be lazy? Clearly this is crazy talk. But for all of his criticisms of the Man Wall, Snyder doesn't include the fact that it's called a Man Wall and embraces pretty much every single stereotype of men and sports fans that exists.

Oh, I almost forgot. You can get your Man Wall customized, and they'll even paint it in your favorite team's colors. (Classy!) We've decided to start saving up for a red and purple ESC Wall so that we can drink beer and watch football, Vh1 Celebreality, Secret Life of the American Teenager, and Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D List all at the same time.


FEMily! said...

Where's the XBox 360? "Man wall" my ass.

bad-boy said...

You have just been promoted to Advertising executive. What do you propose the product be called? People Wall doesn't have any sizzle. How about the Sports Fan Wall?

Anonymous said...

Why only four TVs?

Jezebel said...

bad-boy - Yes, because the name "Man Wall" is just bursting with sizzle. How could we possibly do better?

The point is more about the fact that so many people (and companies like this) act as if "sports fan" is a synonym for "man". But hey, if they want to cut their potential customer base in half, that's cool with us.

Anonymous - You can actually get them to customize your man wall to add more TVs or even fun stuff like a fireplace. They've thought of everything!

bad-boy said...

Jezebel - I wish I had taken a few marketing classes because I do find this topic interesting. Here is the dilemma I think. Your marketing research team has done the analysis and the data suggests that if you market this product to men your sales will increase. If you market the product in a more neutral manner sales will dip. What do you do? Of course I don't know if this actually happened in this case but I am willing to bet this type of decision making happens often.

Jezebel said...

But what is that "analysis" based on? Maybe market research suggests that a product like this should be marketed only to men partly because of the misconception that women don't like sports. And maybe some women aren't as into sports as they might be because of the way that sports-related stuff like this is marketed exclusively to men.

Lilith said...

I think marketing based on gender is stupid and sexist. Any 'analysis' that suggests otherwise is also sexist. Advertising to men or women in this way simply reinforces stereotypes.

I think it's much more likely that women will be turned off by sexist marketing, than men will be turned off by neutral marketing.

bad-boy said...

I am fine with marketing based on gender as long as it is done in the right context. What I mean is that the intention is not to degrade another group. Men's Health magazine has a protein shake advertisement. The shake ad is targeting men, nothing wrong in my opinion. Subaru's marketing strategy of targeting gays has been successful. Gay people connected with the four wheel drive ad "It's Not a Choice. It's the Way We're Built".

That is where effective marketing comes in. Target an audience but don't alienate others. With the Man Wall they do turn off 1/2 the potential market.

Do you market ESC primarily to women?

Jezebel said...

Yes, but Subaru didn't actually name the car "the Gaymobile" or "the LGBT Roadster" or something.

And sorry, but only investors in the ESC Empire get to see the marketing plan.

Anonymous said...

LOL! The Gaymobile! I want one!

I think there's a big difference between marketing a protein shake towards men in a magazine called Men's Health... and what's going on here with the Man Wall.

Not only could the product be usable by non-sports fans... but it makes the wrong assumption that sports fan = man. I could understand if in some men's magazine or somewhere, they described this product as a "Man Wall" but to describe it that on a seemingly neutral website and to NAME it that? Idiotic.

bad-boy said...

I want a gaymobile too. Does it come in pink?

The reason I compared the protein shake to the Man Wall was that in both cases a company took a gender neutral product and made a decision to market the product only to men. One case was obvious sexist, the other was camouflaged.

Lilith said...

You're missing the point. Marketing a health product to men in a men's health magazine is very different. (And is it named "Man Shake"?)

Assuming that the protein shake actually is gender neutral (i.e., not specifically formulated for the male body) it could easily be marketed to women in a women's magazine or neutrally in a gender neutral magazine...

But they're not just marketing the Man Wall to men, they're telling men and women that sports are for men, watching sports on TV is for men, watching sports on four TVs is for men. It's stupid.

bad-boy said...

I understand your point. You are looking at what the public sees. I am focused at the source. Go back to the conference room where management agreed with the marketing team to focus on one gender for the neutral product. That is a sexist position in my opinion regardless of what they name the product, how they design the web site, or what magazines are used for advertising.

Jezebel said...

Well, I'm not really sure what point you're still trying to make right now, but thanks for the condescension in assuming that none of us have ever worked in marketing, product development, or advertising. Please, tell us more about how it works "at the source" ;-)

bad-boy said...

I never made that assumption. I was just looking at it from a different angle.


No, you think you were looking at it from a different angle. Enough already.