Men are revealing a lot these days: their feelings. And not about Fantasy Football, for once. After decades of indifference, men have dropped their guard and admitted they care what women think of their looks.
A glance at the latest men’s grooming ads elicits the following range of emotion-led actions from the XY chromosome set: a wink-wink, knee slap, fist pump, wistful sigh, hand over heart — and, increasingly, a purchase. Men’s marketers are trying to spur men to buy grooming products with a string of memorable messages that use either humor, sex or appeal to their confidence (or lack there of). The shift in tone comes as men are opting for a more barbered, clean-cut look — another reason to thank the guys on Madison Avenue, or, in this case, “Mad Men.”
When it comes to marketing to men, Paco Underhill, founding president of the New York-based consultancy Envirosell, said there are really only two approaches from which to choose: “Sex and humor.” Marketers have delivered those two elements in spades. The men’s grooming category in the U.S. totaled $4.8 billion last year, up 1.1 percent from $4.7 billion in 2008, according to Euromonitor International, and this year promises more robust movement.
The real key to unleashing supersonic growth, suggests Underhill, is getting the guy’s guy — or, in his words, “the Caterpillar tractor driver or Harley-Davidson rider” — to buy into the men’s grooming category. “Men’s sexual identity is much more tender than women’s. They are scared of being called wimpy or not tough,” said Underhill.
Enter the long-held practice of drafting hulking sports stars to front men’s care products.
Men’s ads have been soaked in testosterone since Joe Namath lathered his face with Noxzema shaving cream in the early Seventies, and that has not changed. But several marketers are putting a fresh spin on what it means to be masculine.
Procter & Gamble Co.’s 72-year-old Old Spice brand ignited belly laughter, online chatter and sales by poking fun of masculine bravado. The brand launched its “Smell Like a Man, Man” campaign, featuring the shirtless, smooth-talking Isaiah Mustafa — a former NFL wide receiver-turned-actor — just prior to the Super Bowl and the video soon went viral.
The spot featured Mustafa riding backward on a white horse, declaring, “Did you know women prefer Old Spice for their men one bagillion times more than ladies’ scented bodywashes?” Another ad began with a smooth, deep-throated “Hello, ladies,” in a bid to pull in female fans (read: buyers). The absurdity hooked consumers, who soon began downloading the TV commercials from YouTube.
Sales rocketed. Speaking at Barclays conference last week, Ed Shirley,P&G’s vice chairman of global beauty and grooming, said, “And as aresult of great consumer communication, as well as an incredibleleverage of our social media, we’ve been able to drive Old Spice tomarket leadership in both deodorants and bodywash in the U.S. againstour chief competitor, Axe.”
The company had been working torecast Old Spice for a younger audience for five years. “We weren’tsatisfied with the results we were getting. The brand was doing well,but we weren’t fully exploiting the power of the brand,” said ThomLachman, P&G’s vice president for North America grooming. The ads,created by Weiden + Kennedy, were designed to appeal to women, whopurchase 60 percent of men’s grooming products, but not alienate men.
To introduce its men’s care line, Dove Men+Care, last winter, theUnilever brand built its “Manthem” advertising campaign, created byOgilvy & Mather, around “unsung moments,” like the day a man marriesor his child is born, said Mike Dwyer, marketing director for UnileverMen’s deodorant brands, which includes Dove Men+Care, Axe, Suave,Vaseline and Degree.
Of course, there is a bit of laugherinvolved. The first ad spot — aired during this year’s Super Bowl —introduced the Dove Men+Care “Manthem,” which declares (set to “WilliamTell Overture,” mind you): “You’ve reached a stage where you feel atease. You’ve come this far and it wasn’t a breeze. You can take onanything. Of course you can! Because you’re a man.”
More recentads tone down the laughs and turn up the emotion. In July, the brandlaunched an iAd called “Journey to Comfort,” which features severalMajor League Baseball players, including New York Yankees pitcher AndyPettitte, speaking candidly about their path to personal andprofessional success.
The approach is a far cry from itsbrother brand, Axe, which has been raising eyebrows in the U.S. sinceits launch here in 2002. “The positioning hasn’t changed. The brand isstill focused on being the guy’s ally in the mating game. However, girlshave very much been integrated into the marketing campaigns,” saidDwyer. “The girls are now in on the joke.”
At the time of Axe’slaunch, Dwyer recalled, “The market had a very dry, functional approachto speaking to men.” He added Axe wanted to speak to 18- to24-year-olds’ interests — which are, basically, girls, girls and girls —in a witty and irreverent way. Irreverent may be the operative word.The tag line for The Axe Detailer, a two-side exfoliator, or, inreality, a manly version of a bodywash puff, is “Cleans Your Balls.”
“Guys are generally very literal,” said Dwyer. “Instead of using theword ‘exfoliate,’ Axe says, ‘Scrap off the rough stuff.’”
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews
“Stranger Things” is getting a new cast member for season 2. Meet @sadiesink_, the 15-year-old who will be joining the Netflix series for its new season. You may recognize her from “The Glass Castle” with Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson, but the Texas native’s next role goes in an entirely different direction. She describes her character, Max, as “a rough and tumble skater girl [who] becomes friends with the boys at school.” The second season debuts on October 27. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdeye
Amid the Harvey Weinstein controversy, there’s another sector that’s being put under the spotlight for sexual abuse: the modeling industry. While rumors about abuse and sexual harassment of female and male models — and the photographers, agents and others who perpetrated it — have circulated within the fashion world for years, model @cameronrussell started posting stories from models on Instagram last week about abusive situations they’ve encountered — from sexual harassment and molestation to attempted rape. Over 75 have weighed in so far. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews
To celebrate its 16th anniversary, @dylanscandybar tapped designers and celebrities to create mosaics out of candy. The mosaics will be auctioned off to support the philanthropic cause of each participant’s choice. Pictured here is the mural created by @aliceandolivia's Stacey Bendet. For a first look at some of the other artwork being unveiled tonight, go to WWD.com. #wwdeye
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
@eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone debuted her first-ever cookbook, “Cook Beautiful,” which is heavily centered on the presentation and visual expression of food. Pictured here are her miso glazed carrots from the book. Get the recipe on WWD.com. (📷: @johnny_miller_) #wwdeye