Why men don’t relate to ads, and how to fix it

CANNES: Men are misunderstood. By the media and by marketers. This according to Leo Burnett Worldwide, which after extensive research found that over 74% of males globally don't relate to advertising geared right at them.

Leo B delivered the news at a seminar in Cannes yesterday titled 'Metros vs. Retros: Are Marketers Missing Real Men?' The answer, apparently, is sort of.

CANNES: Men are misunderstood. By the media and by marketers. This according to Leo Burnett Worldwide, which after extensive research found that over 74% of males globally don’t relate to advertising geared right at them.

Leo B delivered the news at a seminar in Cannes yesterday titled ‘Metros vs. Retros: Are Marketers Missing Real Men?’ The answer, apparently, is sort of.

While the well-documented ‘new male spectrum’ places men in two groups: metrosexuals (who adopt feminine traits) and retrosexuals (who cling to old-school ways) – only half of the male universe defines itself in these terms.

After interviewing 2,000 men from 13 countries, Leo B found that the male gender actually isn’t comprised of the dimwitted morons portrayed in many of today’s ads. These guys are complex (some even cried in interviews) and advertisers must address their evolving needs.

‘They have a huge amount of buying power and discretionary income,’ adds Tom Bernardin, Leo B chairman and CEO. ‘They are spending on clothes for themselves and their families, as well as accessories, the gym, spas and plastic surgery today more than ever before.’

In addition to metros and retros the research uncovered two new groups – powerseekers, who are focused on careers, and patriarchs, who are dedicated to family. Many men (50% in the U.S. and 64% in France, for instance) are unclear about their role in society and are finding new ways to function in a new world order where women are equal and gaining further ground. (For example, in the U.K. women control 48% of wealth and that number is expected to grow.)

In total, Leo B planners found five drivers of male adaptation – they are holding on to power by being more flexible with women, they are striving to maintain their role in the family, they need to keep careers on track so they are trying to work better with women, they indulge in newfound pleasures like personal care products and they want to continue to be attractive to women and therefore realize they must change.

But some things never do change, and the Leo B-ers found that guys are still fiercely competitive with each other. When asked whether they would rather be a rock star or a star athlete, most picked the latter.

Based on their findings, the agency offered the following recommendations to advertisers:

* Embrace male complexity – there’s more to men than media stereotypes suggest.

* Anticipate male adaptation.

* Let the primal man out to play. It’s okay to indulge in a sense of masculinity, i.e. sex in marketing and locker room humour.

* Grab ‘em by the balls – create smart brand positionings and provocative imagery that register with a uniquely male point of view.

* Stop looking in the mirror of today – consider how changes in society are impacting men.