Adland ‘putting men under the same pressure to succeed as women’

Advertising which stereotypes male success is putting men under similar pressure to that which women have felt for years as a result of beauty advertising, delegates at Advertising Week Europe have been told.


Fernando Desouches, managing director at New Macho, a division of UK agency BBD Perfect Storm, focussed on marketing to men, said brands will cut through by showing there is more to being a successful male than earning lots of money.

He said: “Brands need to show a different kind of man in the same way as they have a different kind of beauty for women. Men still think they shouldn’t crack under pressure. They still define success by how much they earn. We need to show men there’s a different way to be successful, but by showing that, not making a statement about it.”

He said recent criticism of Gillette’s We believe: the best men can be campaign had demonstrated the pitfalls of a brand talking to its target audience rather than engaging with it.

“The intention was good, but they didn’t put men in the centre. By rejecting the traditional male mantra and replacing it with something more vulnerable and emotional, they fell into a progressive trap. And men rejected that because it took them out of one box and put them into another.”

Desouches added Gillette could have avoided that by connecting with men in the same emotional way as they had done traditionally.

“They could have challenged perceptions of what success means to men. That it’s too narrow and materialistic. But that doesn’t mean they need to tell us how to behave or how we should be.

It would have connected better and they had the authority to do that.”

Editor and CEO of men’s media brand The Book of Man Martin Robinson agreed the crisis in masculinity and definitions of success mean brands need to be more sensitive in how they talk to men.

He said: “Roles at home and at work are shifting and it’s important to reflect what’s happening, not just do the same thing men’s brands have always done – ‘here’s the car, here’s the suit, here’s the watch’. Look at what men’s interior lives are and the problems they’re facing.”


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