Leo Burnett study supports, debunks common male myths

MUMBAI: Leo Burnett Worldwide unveiled the results of a proprietary global study of men’s attitudes and values at Advertising Week 2005 during its seminar, “Metros Versus Retros: Are Marketers Missing Real Men?”



Presented by Leo Burnett USA executive vice president/director of production Jonathan Davis and Leo Burnett USA planning director Rose Cameron, the seminar debunks some common male myths. The chief among them:

    Men may be more sensitive than we give them credit for: The greatest insult to a man, according to those surveyed, is that “he’ll never amount to anything” (29 per cent), followed by “everyone laughs behind your back” (24 per cent) and “you’re stupid” (21 per cent).

    Men may be less interested in money than happiness: Study participants overwhelmingly said that they’d rather have a job they love (73 per cent) vs. a job that pays well (27 per cent).

    Men don’t always fantasize about supermodels: When asked about their ultimate male fantasy, those surveyed ranked “ending world hunger” (#1) and “being a world famous sports star” (#2) above “being married to a supermodel” (#3).



The study also supports common conclusions about men, including:

The majority of men surveyed don’t care about being “Metro.” Sixty per cent of men aren’t concerned with defining themselves as “Metros” or “Retros.” Instead, they live by a more traditional set of standards for assessing their masculinity. The larger group of men is more focused on defining themselves in the eyes of other men, largely by seeking respect and admiration for success either in their professional life or their family life. The study dubs these men as Power Seekers and Patriarchs, respectively, and contends they are largely overlooked by popular culture, the media and marketers.



Across the globe, men shared some common sentiments, including:

    Their role in society is unclear. Due to profound social and structural changes taking place across the globe, the study confirmed that men in most parts of the world are unsure of what’s expected of them in society, with half of those surveyed saying they felt their role in society was unclear. A stunning 74 per cent said they believe the images of men in advertising are out of touch with reality.

    They’re adapting to their changing society. Men are driven to adapt to these social changes for five reasons, including (1) to hold on to power, (2) to maintain meaningful roles in changed family dynamics, (3) to keep their jobs and careers on track, (4) to indulge themselves in newfound pleasures (things they couldn't before), and (5) to attract the ladies.

“There has never been a more relevant time to reassess the state of masculinity, particularly as it affects buying patterns and trends in global marketing. While the world has been focused on women, men have been undergoing some significant changes of their own. An equally comprehensive look at men is long overdue, and it was our goal to help put things in perspective. The last thing we want is to look back in ten years and find that we have unwittingly created the same clichés that female advertising is riddled with," said Leo Burnett Worldwide CEO Tom Bernardin.

In preparation for the seminar, the agency interviewed more than 2,000 men in 13 countries to explore the evolving state of masculinity around the world and explain the opportunities and challenges for marketers.

The study revealed the existence of a “New Male Spectrum,” characterised on one end by highly adaptive, modern men - or what have been popularly dubbed “metrosexuals,” and on the other end, entrenched, more traditionally masculine “retrosexuals” who cling steadfastly to stereotypical male behavior. Both groups are engaged by the gender debate and see themselves in terms relative to women: either they’re more like women (Metros) or they’re aggressively asserting their difference from women, (Retros).

However, according to the Man Study, fewer than 40 per cent of men define themselves this way. The study put the larger majority of men on the “Traditional Male Spectrum,” denoting those who seek professional success as Power Seekers and those who seek familial success as Patriarchs.

In light of these findings, the seminar offered several recommendations for marketers:

Embrace male complexity: There’s more to men than many of the media clichés and stereotypes suggest.

Anticipate male adaptation: Men are adapting all around the world, even in traditional societies and developing markets. It’s part of how they cope with change.

Let the primal man out to play: It’s okay to indulge a man’s sense of masculinity. This encompasses everything from using sex as a marketing ploy to locker room humor.

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: We need to consider how the changes in society are affecting changes in men. Advertising stays relevant by reflecting the zeitgeist.

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