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Men's Underwear Ads - No Ands, Ifs ... Just Sexy Butts




With underwear ads being so ubiquitous, you'd think that every man would own at least one great pair of briefs (and for men in New York, two pairs!); surprisingly, it's not the case - at least based on what I see in the locker room at the gym.  Obviously, not everyone is inspired by what they see on the printed page.  With that off my chest, here is ZeitGAYst's fourth installment of "Sexy Magazine Ads".   


  • Todd & Terry.  An Aussie brand, but the model here is American.  His name is Jack Mackenroth, 42 years old (in 2011), and openly gay.  A menswear designer who competed on Project Runway in 2008, he made headlines after withdrawing when he developed the serious bacterial skin infection known as MRSA.  Mackenroth's also a skilled swimmer, who's competed in the Gay Games, where he's won a number of gold medals.  Additionally, he's an AIDS activist who's open about being HIV+.




  • Jockey.  Jim Palmer is a Hall of Fame pitching great who played for the Baltimore Orioles in the 1960s and '70s.  I believe he is the first athlete to "drop trou" for underwear ads - the first attempt by Major League Baseball to turn gay men into baseball fans.





  • Dolce & Gabanna.  Another in a long line of Italian rugby players exuding their sexy, cocksure attitude for D&G.




  • Puma.  I've never come across Puma's underwear brand, but since this ad ran I'll believe that it exists.  (And I rarely see its athletic shoes in stores anymore.)  But it's a cute ad.  (If you can't read it, the copy says "i see london, i see france, i see daily underpants".)




  • Tommy Hilfiger.  This joins one of Marky Mark's Calvin Klein ads as one of the few in the genre with a sweet, smiling model (Jason Shaw).




If you haven't already seen them, I've published a number of other posts about men's underwear:

Aah ... Underwear Ads!

Joy to the World - More Alluring Men's Underwear Ads

More Ogle-Worthy Men's Underwear Ads























Capturing GQ's Evolution Through Its Covers




GQ began as a trade publication called Apparel Arts in the 1930s.  It was re-positioned as a consumer magazine in the late 1950s and re-named Gentleman's Quarterly; it was re-branded once again in the late 1960s when it officially became known simply as GQ.  Covers from the 1950s and 1960s featured a varied mix of celebrities (e.g., Rock Hudson, Joe DiMaggio, Robert Goulet), jaunty models dressed like dandies and artistic covers with no models present.  Then in the 1970s a change in style had covers mostly depicting couples - but with the women more or less in the role of accessory.  





Male models in close-up populated most covers beginning in the late '70s and continuing into the '80s.  Led by editor-in-chief Jack Haber, this was considered the magazine's overt gay phase and some say it peaked with the famous "New York Dazzle" cover.  (That was the first issue of the magazine I purchased.)


May 1978



"New York Dazzle", November 1978


After Conde Nast acquired the publicaiton in 1979, GQ's editorial content was broadened to cover other facets of a man's life.  This was done to make it more palatable to a wider spectrum of advertisers, especially automakers in Detroit.  (And to make it more appealing to heterosexual readers.)  When it pitched itself to advertisers, GQ more or less instituted a "don't ask, don't tell" policy as it pertained to its gay readership


During this era, publisher Steve Florio, and editor Art Cooper took heat from its gay readership for turning its back on its core readers by giving the magazine somewhat of a scotch-and-cigars sensibility.  (When I worked in the media department of ad agency Young & Rubicam, I had a gay boss who loved to make GQ's director of ad sales squirm by asking him pointed questions about its gay readers.)


Arnold Schwarzenegger, July 1986



Frank Gifford, February 1984



Donald Trump, February 1985



Over the past 25 years, entertainers and sports stars, both male and female, have monopolized covers. (Tom Cruise has been on the cover seven times.)  Actresses first appeared "unchaperoned" in the early 1990s (Julia Roberts being the first).  By the end of the decade, they were appearing regularly (three to four issues each year), wearing less clothes and showing more cleavage - most likely in response to "laddie" magazines such as Maxim - drumming home the point that "we're not just for gay guys anymore".  GQ (whose editor-in-chief from 2003-2018, Jim Nelson, was openly gay) was influential in transforming heterosexual men into metrosexuals.




Jennifer Lopez, December 2002



Penelope Cruz, February 2000


Here are some of my favorite covers from the old days (1980s): 


Jeff Aquilon, May 1982


Mikhail Baryshnikov, November 1985




December 1991



Here are some celebs in their younger, and then more mature, days as shown by their GQ covers.  First, Robert DeNiro in 1991 and 2007, and then Jeff Bridges in 1986 and 2010.


January 1991, at age 47


January 2007, at age 63


June 1986, at age 37


December 2010, at age 62



And the debonair Sean Connery in 1966 and 1989; Cary Grant in 1962 and 1986.


April 1966, at age 35


1989, at age 58



September 1962, at age 58


January 1986, at age 82


The magazine now has a metrosexual vibe throughout its pages and serves the 21st century interests of both gay and straight men fairly well. In closing, here are some "eye candy" covers from the past 20 years:


February 1998


December 1999


June 2001


June 2004


November 2004


September 2005


November 2010




January 2011


SF 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick, Sept. 2013



















To review all of GQ's covers between 1957-2007: http://www.coverbrowser.com/covers/gq


More Ogle-Worthy Men's Underwear Ads

Whether it's a mainstream brand like Jockey or a high-fashion label such as Versace on the waistband, art directors who specialize in creating underwear ads understand the selling power of the male physique (i.e. "sex sells").  And they find plenty of provocative ways to put it on display so that we think nothing of dropping $20 for a pair of undies.


  • 2(x)ist.  Most underwear ads are static shots of a model with a "come hither" look, so kudos to 2(x)ist for this one here that shows the product in action.  The company is renowned for some of the most tantalizing ads in the category.  This is one of its earliest.




  • Jockey.  This has got to be one of the saddest looking pair of briefs shown in any underwear ad!  Obviously, the folks at Jockey were counting on readers to focus on the sexy model, and not the product (a safe supposition). 





  • aussieBum.  The oh-so-Italian model is sexy as hell, but what makes this ad so atypical for aussieBum (known mostly for its swimwear) is the excessive amount of clothes the model is wearing!





  • Champion.  This lesser known brand (who knew they made clothes other than workout gear?) takes a milk and cookies approach by using an All-American cutie in basic white skivvies, and teasing us with just a hint of bare flesh.  (Works for me!)  By the way, this has got to be the most ad copy I've ever come across in an underwear ad.




  • Versace.  I don't know what's going on with all of the gear draped around the model, but I suppose it's the nature of "high fashion" advertising - as is his aloof, albeit sexy, look.





  • D&G.  Finally, may I present to you the 2006 World Cup champion Italian soccer team for Dolce & Gabbana.  Would that American sports teams were so at ease flaunting their equipment for all to salivate over.




Baby It's Cold Outside - Sexy Guys in Cold-Weather Gear




Inspired by this year's harsh winter (2011), I immersed myself in a review of winter fashion ads from my archive and found a good many that warmed me up - on a number of levels.  And, as a friend once pointed out, if you've got a great physique your sex appeal shows through no matter what (or how much) you wear.  And the selection of ads I've chosen prove his point.  Please enjoy the parade of sexy men in their cold-weather attire ...



This handsome man lounging in his long johns beckons you to open the catalog - whose pages will be comprised largely of skimpy underwear on beefy torsos - which, of course, is Undergear's bread and butter.





A high-end sportswear clothier established in 1978 and based in Milan, the company is named after the famed British golfer from the 1930s, '40s and '50s known for his impeccable style of dress (and who I never heard of).  Similar to Polo, Henry Cotton's prides itself on "informal elegance".  It has a big presence in Asia, but has failed in its attempts here in the States at operating standalone retail stores.  Instead, it has a roster of exclusive stores that carry its label.





UA claims to have created the "performance apparel" category in 1996, supplying the NFL and college football teams with lightweight, breathable workout gear that hugs every muscle.  The company expanded into the consumer market about around 2000.  (Count me as a satisfied customer.)  It offers great form-fitting gear for all types of activities and all types of weather.





Before going out on his own Ferre was the stylistic director of Christian Dior.  He died seven years ago (2004), just shy of his 63rd birthday, but his label lives on.  FYI, the model in this Bergdorf's ad, Hoyt Richards, got a lot of work in the late 1980s and '90s.  No surprise, at the age of 52 (2014) he's still a handsome man.





He's got stunning eyes, a rugged and square jawline and a luxurious fur collar to keep him cozy.  A beautifully composed ad for an 114-year-old (as of 2014) menswear manufacturer headquartered in Rochester, NY (a surprise for all of us who think only of Kodak whenever this city is mentioned).





Although the company's founder, Salvatore Ferragamo, has been dead for more than 50 years, his legacy of fine footwear lives on.  And as this ad attests, the presence of a hot body isn't always necessary to exude sex appeal.






























Joy to the World - More Alluring Men's Underwear Ads


Back by popular demand, here's a second installment of titillating men's underwear ads from the past 20 years (1990-2010)


  • Calvin Klein.  Part of an iconic ad campaign from the early 1990s, what makes this particular execution stand out for me is the fact that it's one of the few underwear ads for any label in which the model is smiling.  And Marky Mark's smile here is even more beguiling considering his thug pedigree (now a distant memory since transforming into "actor" Mark Wahlberg). 




  • Polo.  There's not a stitch of clothing visible, but, yes, it's an underwear ad - because the headline says so.  But somehow I'm okay with that.




  • Banana Republic.  Such a sweet ad.  It might have been a cute touch to have little boxers for the dog as well (a line extension?).




  • Tommy Hilfiger.  I like this ad for the contrast of the vivid blue background with the white briefs and the model's skin color.  And his pulling the briefs away from his mid-section is somewhat of a provocative touch.




  • Polo.  Unlike the Polo spread a few photos above (perhaps using the same model) this Polo ad manages to show the briefs (barely).  Nice use of a redhead - and the dog tag is a nice touch, especially because it draws attention to his pecs. 




  • Finally,covers of the New Yorker often make playful commentaries on trends of the day, and in this one the waistband-as-ad-message takes a jab.  Since this cover appeared in the summer of 1997, waistband labels have become even bigger and bolder.