The ambidextrous hair product ad

This is an ad for a hair product. The caption in the circle says, “Sasaki Kacho (manager), word is that you’re looking really sharp lately!

Question: is Sasaki Kacho the man or the woman?

Perhaps the lady is kidding around with her boss, sharing some gossip while scoring brownie points. Or perhaps the man is praising his superstar boss, sheepishly scratching his head while making a personal remark.

Okay, the copy initially caught my eye because my family name is Sasaki but the ambiguity made me look twice.

Let’s consider a few things about the copy:

  • the word “sharp” (kakkoii) can be used for both male and female
  • the use of the word “kacho” is slightly jarring because the two models are around the same age
Note: “Kakkoii” is more often used as a masculine adjective, but if this lady has climbed to kacho at her age, chances are that she’s pretty “kakkoii“!

And visually?

The disproportionate size ratio is probably due to the female model being better known but still,

  • the woman’s clothes and accessories is not the typical office lady style
  • the color palette of the ad is not particularly masculine or feminine
  • the opaque circle is an odd design choice – it could be said TO her, or said BY her

Is there a right answer to this question?

Yes. The product description at the bottom says “Lucido is a mens’ cosmetic brand for 40 and over”. What was your guess?