Marketing to Men? Ditch The Gender Stereotype

Marketing to Men? Ditch The Gender Stereotype

Vizeum Sydney’s Strategy Executive Patrick Fahey discusses a need for marketers to ditch the gender stereotype when marketing to men, especially around Father’s Day.

Patrick Fahey
Posted by Patrick Fahey

As we move further into the 21st century, the definition of what it means to be a man and a woman is changing rapidly. Men are progressing through a feminisation process and women are ‘leaning in’. This is all great news. But it means marketers must recognise this shift and ditch the gender stereotype in comms. For both genders. A perfect time to see which brands are agile is on corporate holidays such as Mother’s and Father’s Day so let’s take a look at Fathers’ Day 2014.

I’m sure you’re aware it was Father’s Day earlier this month. And it’s likely that you didn’t pay your dad as much attention as you did for your mother on Mother’s Day. Is it true? Not to worry, you weren’t the only one. It would seem that we generally care more about showering our mums attention on such days. Consider the contrast in Mother’s and Father’s Day content consumption in the US. In 2013, there was more than twice as much Mother’s Day content consumption than Fathers’ Day consumption.

father's day

But why is there little attention given to dads? Do we think that fathers don’t care? They do care. In fact, did you know that men are more emotionally sensitive than women and positively respond to heart-warming content twice as much as women? Indeed, today’s definition of a man is very different to the way we defined a man 20 or 30 years ago. Research from the Future Foundation has found that 59% of people believe ‘father’ defines what it means to be a man.

This is compared with only 54% of people using ‘mother’ as a word to define what it means to be women. In comms, men are generally portrayed as beer drinking, tool-belt wearing goofy larrikins. Even some 2014 Father’s Day comms are holding a tribute to stereotypical dads that were made when ‘men were men’.

It’s a really great TVC but it’s also interesting to ponder how this strategy would go if a brand was to make a tribute to old school mums: made when ‘women were women’? There would be riots. We need to drop the stereotype.

These days consumer brands need to connect with fathers in a way that makes them feel like a man. In other words, make fathers proud to be a dad. A good example of this is Dove’s #RealDadMoments.

In this spot Dove connects with fathers by targeting the moments of what it means to be a dad. There are no stereotypes, just fathers being dads. Any dad who watches this will understand the numerous special moments involved in raising a child.

Truth be told, men will always want to be made to feel like a man. However, what it means to ‘be a man’ is changing significantly.

To this end, brands will need to ditch the stereotypes of yesteryear and keep up to speed in making the modern man feel manly.