Sex still sells. Or does it?

Rant warning

I could have called this post; What? No iris?

But, as I have alluded to before, the world is full of mysteries for me at the moment. And not in a good way. I really don’t understand the world any more. I am not a conspiracy theorist but I often wonder if I am losing the plot or everyone else.

The first signs that I was losing my grip were the Diet Coke adverts with women ‘admiring’ scantily clad men mowing or doing physical work. It was just a bit of fun, except that if it was a group of men ogling semi-naked women dribbling a soft drink it would have been banned, rightly.

It is all probably harmless but I find it rather disquieting in the same way that I wonder if some of the aggressive and ‘controversial’ promotion of left-wing views is promoted by the Right just to stir up tension. The right-wing UK press certainly uses this tactic and it is frightening. Put the fear of God into the general public and you can make them do anything. I could go on but I won’t because this is supposed to be about plants.

So what am I rabbiting on about? Well I was planting a ‘pot’ of succulents for a photo shoot for a magazine and the only container I had free was a planter that I had kindly been given as a gift.

It is not something I would have bought myself but it was a kind thought. ‘Crafted from terracotta’, it is a rather chubby cherub holding a bowl above his head. I am not sure it is 100% frostproof and although I am tempted to lose it in some undergrowth I really don’t want it to break because it was a gift. So some succulents seemed logical because they would need protection from cold anyway. To add some interest to the echeverias that I had propagated I bought a mangave.

Mangaves are bigeneric hybrids between manfreda and agave – except that they are not because those pesky botanists decided that manfredas are actually agaves, probably as a result of the hybrids which proved how closely related they are. The spotted, blotched and softer leaves of the manfredas are combined with the toughness of agaves, and the many hybrids are becoming very popular. They are possibly not hardy below -6c but I think winter wet is likely to be the biggest issue here, hence planting in a container that can be moved beside the house in winter for protection. I think the mangave will get too big for the pot in a year but these are tough plants that will withstand, if not love, poor, dry, conditions and actually colour up better if dry and in hot sun. My ‘Mission to Mars’ is looking a bit dull after an Irish winter in the garden centre but should look brighter soon. There are about 20 hybrids being commercially produced and some are a lot more exciting than mine and I will get a few more if I get the chance.

But what has this to do with my preliminary comments?

Well, it was the packaging that came with the plant.

‘Strong, tough, sexy and chill’

‘Likes to look sharp, but naked is also fine’

This is supposed to describe a plant and I am not sure what information it conveys. Together with an image of a trendy male in a relaxed pose, it is very strange. It tells very little about the plant, though I suppose ‘Doesn’t need sunscreen, Does not turn red fast’ does give some advice (though the red pigment will be stronger in sun). I have no idea what ‘Always driving, drinks little’ relates to, although, of course, the plant is resistant to drought. Is it saying that the attractive man is reliable and is good for a taxi because he does not drink alcohol but has a nice car and a full licence?

And what about ‘grows long hair and it grows fast‘? I guess a healthy head of hair is a desirable trait in a mate but mangaves are not hairy.

Is this supposed to appeal to men or women? Is it supposed to be funny? Are women supposed to buy it because it has an attractive male on the pack? And for themselves or to take as a gift to a hen party?

Perhaps not because the front of the pack states ‘Try to be more like me‘ (there may be a word missing because the pack was damaged). Does that apply to men who are asked to be more like a mangave?

It is unfortunate that ‘Mad about Mangave’ doesn’t really work because it should now be ‘Mad about Agave’. That is just unfortunate and I can’t expect someone who thinks that this promotion is appropriate to get the nomenclature right!

Should we welcome this as a balancing of centuries of the use of women to sell products? I am not offended by the use of a male image to sell a product. In theory I suppose I could be, but I am not.

But it is just so bizarre. Someone came up with this idea, someone else passed it and then had it printed.


What on earth is going on?

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8 Comments on “Sex still sells. Or does it?”

  1. Diane
    February 23, 2022 at 9:21 am #

    😂 oh dear, put that fancy terracotta pot as decor somewhere in your pond margins. It will add interest among pond plants while it’s there and when another storm comes around the corner and it disappears overnight, it will provide great breeding grounds for whatever finds it! Be glad it’s terracotta not plastic!

  2. Paddy Tobin
    February 23, 2022 at 9:48 am #

    Yes, “bizarre” is the best word for it all.

  3. Katherine
    February 23, 2022 at 5:06 pm #

    It really annoys me when we objectify either sex to sell a product. I always roll my eyes at products like that. For real, I don’t buy a plant for sex appeal 😂. It’s bonkers.
    I do love succulents though, now I’m inspired to get some. Maybe I’ll get a Hen and Chicks, I think my mother has a lot.

    • thebikinggardener
      February 23, 2022 at 5:10 pm #

      I am just confused. I can understand using sex to sell perfume or pants, whether it is right or not, but to sell plants is a bit odd. I also want to get more mangaves but it will not be because of the marketing. Good luck with the hen and chicks!

      • Katherine
        February 23, 2022 at 5:13 pm #

        Even with perfume it can be a bit baffling. I always think “what does this half naked person jumping into the ocean have to do with how your perfume smells”. Maybe you can find a different selection of mangaves.

        • thebikinggardener
          February 23, 2022 at 5:19 pm #

          I think in Ireland (and possibly much of Europe) they are distributed by Plantipp and they originated this packaging. I can’t blame the poor plants for the plant sleeves and I will get them when I see them. It is true that perfume marketing is a bit baffling but smells are difficult to portray on TV I suppose. Like scented candles that smell of ‘summer breeze’ – some days here when the wind is coming from the pig farm down the road ‘summer breeze’ is the last thing I want to smell in the house.

  4. tonytomeo
    February 24, 2022 at 1:46 am #

    Plant Delights nursery sends me their catalog with overly artistic political cartoons on the cover. They are not always political, but typical address some sort of controversial issues. Whether I agree with it or not, I find it objectionable. If I am to be interested in their very interesting products, their political opinions are irrelevant.

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