Embodying Military Muscles and a Remasculinized West: Influencer Marketing, Fantasy and “the Face of NATO”

Elsa Hedling, Emil Edenborg, Sanna Strand

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In 2018, NATO carried out Trident Juncture, its largest military exercise since the Cold War. The event was promoted on social media featuring Lasse Matberg as “the face of NATO”. Matberg is an Instagram influencer, model and lieutenant in the Royal Norwegian Navy, with an impressive physique and Viking looks. He frequently appears on NATOs social media accounts and lends his own platform to share activities such as working out with the Secretary-General. Drawing on the notion of “fantasmatic logics” (Glynos and Howarth 2007), we study how visual narratives of influencer marketing can contribute to make war preparations appear normal, void of political significance and even desirable. The figure of Lasse Matberg is read in conjunction with international rearmament and increasing geopolitical antagonism bound up with ideas of “traditional masculinity” and “feminization”. We argue that the muscular yet ambiguously “soft” figure of Lasse Matberg projects a symbolic re-masculinization of the West, operating through a fantasmatic logic which seemingly reconciles the contradiction between a West which is imperial and militarily muscular on the one hand, and caring, democratic and progressive on the other. By shedding light on NATO’s use of influencer marketing to promote a military exercise, this paper contributes novel insights into the ways in which the figure of the NATO soldier and NATO military build-up are produced as appealing, allowing an ambivalent gendered geopolitical imaginary to emerge.
Original languageEnglish
JournalGlobal Studies Quarterly
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Mar 10

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Political Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Embodying Military Muscles and a Remasculinized West: Influencer Marketing, Fantasy and “the Face of NATO”'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this