Muscles, toughness and a high sex drive were considered the only definition constraining men in what they could be. For years, guys have been told to man up. Act tough. Don’t cry. And even today, despite the many positive examples of ‘progressive masculinity’ out there, being a ‘man’ is still ruled by these old-school stereotypes, forcing guys to bottle up their feelings.
The downfall of the ‘1990s lad mag’ print industry has influenced brands like Lynx, Fosters and The LadBible to redefine what it means to be a ‘lad’. The decline in sales for these publications is due to the changing attitude and behaviours of men in modern society. Which have effected brands’ associations with publications like FHM and ZOO, which are not resonating audience anymore. Modern brands and content distributors need to be promoting men’s individuality and confidence.
Fortunately, there is an increase in brands that had decided to rip up the rules of male marketing and go for a ‘dadvertising approach’, which is more in-line with today’s society. Research conducted by Brian Miller (Strategy Director, Sense Worldwide) explained that more male specific ‘brands are moving to reflect a society which now expects men to spend as much time with their kids as women’. This was especially evident in 2015’s Super Bowl advertising spots for Dove’s ‘real strength’ campaign where they promoted that “men’s caring side is a large part of their masculinity and strength”.
According to Miller, market research conducted ahead of a brand’s campaigns is often less female-dominated then it has traditionally been. Miller goes onto state that “Five years ago, it was a big fight to have any men included in research, as it was generally women who did the big shop”. Due to the changes in technology and the rise of social media, men are more likely to reveal more about themselves than ever before and dissolves the notion that men don’t exhibit emotion.
Brands are working closely with charities to get a better understanding of their male audience. Research conducted by the charity Promundo and CALM for Lynx’s latest campaign #isitokforguys, revealed that 65% of respondents have been told that “a real man” should behave a certain way. Over 66% of respondents for think society expects them to act strong, even if they feel scared, and 56% feel they are expected to figure out problems on their own without asking for help. The research had also high-lighted that mental health issues, bullying, violence and a lack of positive role models are key topics that men are particularly uncomfortable talking about, which brands are looking to address.
For me, being a man today isn’t about conforming to one ideal of manhood; masculinity has many forms. We need to form an inclusive society and create a world with as many definitions of masculinity as guys walking this earth.