However, the use of chiselled actors and sports stars to promote men’s toiletries is wearing thin among the target consumer group, according to brands such as Dove and Bulldog, which have both made efforts to break this outdated mould.
Unilever brand Dove Men+Care has shaped its marketing strategy around the results of global research conducted in 2009, which surveyed 7,500 men aged between 30 and 55. The brand wanted to reach this audience in a new way after it discovered that 68% of men feel they aren’t realistically portrayed in advertising, while 71% find it difficult to relate to men of their age who are shown in commercials. The brand’s Manthem TV ad uses humour – and real men – to convey the stages of a typical man’s life in a 90-second slot.
The brand has followed this in the UK by partnering with retailer Tesco’s customer magazine, to produce a special Man Alive supplement featuring content that celebrates the lives of real men.
Dove Men+Care brand manager Paul Connell explains: “Tesco had repositioned its magazine to speak to real women, so we wanted to work with the supermarket to see how we could do this for men. It gave us an opportunity to tell guys what we were about as a brand and deliver content that was relevant and which we couldn’t provide through conventional above-the-line advertising.”
While Dove’s approach might have paved the way for brands to question how they target men, Connell claims Unilever is continuing to push boundaries by exploring new ways of engaging with real men in 2011. He says: “I’m confident we will continue to speak to men in different ways but as to how that will look and feel over the next two years, we haven’t quite finalised that yet.”
Bulldog, a natural male grooming brand, is also trying to break the male stereotype by encouraging men to buy products such as anti-ageing moisturiser. The brand is getting its message across by sponsoring online comedy series Soapbox, which is fronted by comedian David Mitchell, with each episode book-ended by Bulldog brand messages.
Bulldog co-founder Simon Duffy says: “Our rivals produce commoditised for-men versions of female products. Adopting a traditional approach by plastering a leading sportsman onto billboards all over London would be too expensive for a challenger brand like us.”
The Bulldog image has also been adopted as an antidote to the male stereotypes in this category. Duffy says: “He’s loyal, tenacious and a daily companion. It’s a positive way to look at being a man.”