Marketing to men
Simon Birch explains why he’ll never fall for those male grooming ads.
I’m a rubbish bloke. You want proof? Just check out my bathroom cabinet – here you’ll find a half-used bottle of shampoo, a tub of shaving cream and well, that’s about it as far as grooming products go.
You see I’ve never fallen for any of the male grooming industry’s slick ad campaigns for what I consider to be nothing more than over-priced, stinky, toxic waste. Aftershave? Deodorant? Urgh! Not today or tomorrow thanks.
And whilst some blokes might think that I might smell like a tramp, there’s nothing that a daily shower can’t sort out.
Besides my other (big) objection to the grooming industry is the way in which their use is yet another stamp of corporate conformity. Who wants to smell exactly the same as a zillion other blokes? Excuse me but whatever happened to individuality?
The bottom line is that I’d rather smell like the unique creation that is me than the product of some multi-nationals marketing and PR exercise thank you very much.
The trouble is that whilst women have been targeted by the cosmetics industry ever since Cleopatra first over-used the eye-liner to hook hapless Mark Anthony, the potentially lucrative male market is now firmly on the radar of some of the biggest companies in the world and they don’t care how they hook us in.
Take Unilever, the world’s third biggest consumer goods company and maker of Lynx deodorant. They’ve used their millions to establish Lynx as the leading male deodorant for teenage boys and young men. The problem is how they get their impressionable market to buy the stuff.
Given what occupies the minds of most teenage blokes, Unilever have been flogging Lynx as a sure-fire way of making them instantly irresistible to the opposite sex. And not everyone’s been happy at some of their recent ads.
Last year six raunchy Lynx adverts, one featuring lads’ mag pin-up Lucy Pinder, were banned by the Advertising Standards Authority after attracting more than 100 complaints whilst a shower gel advert, which was circulated in July 2011, attracted 113 complaints. The poster depicted a bikini-clad woman under a shower at a beach, with the headline: “The cleaner you are the dirtier you get.”
The ASA said the adverts “were likely to cause serious or widespread offence”, particularly to members of the public accompanied by children, because it objectified women.
Unilever defended the ads saying that Lynx advertising is tongue in cheek and that it is aimed at a youth market: “It’s how an adolescent boy would love the world to be but that everyone, including them, knows it is not going to be,” said Keith Weed, chief marketing officer at Unilever.
Sure, this represents the more extreme end of the advertising market, but it typifies the lengths to which corporates are prepared to go to flog their rubbish.
And it’s another reason why I’ll keep on smelling the way that nature intended.
Procter & Gamble own a host of brands in the sector. These include Head and Shoulders, Oral B and Gillette. The company is the subject of a boycott call from campaign groups PETA and Uncaged over its use of animal testing. In 2011, following a complaint submitted by Uncaged, the company was forced to withdraw an advert for its ‘Herbal Essences’ hair care range which falsely claimed ‘we don’t test on animals’. When challenged by the Advertising Standards Authority, P&G admitted the statement contradicted thousands of chemical poisoning tests that they still carried out on animals for the sake of Herbal Essences and other beauty brands.
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This product guide is part of a Special Report on Cosmetics & Toiletries. See what's in the rest of the report.