Monthly Archives

November 2012

Why Men Can’t Have It All

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Recently my company, Break Media, conducted a six-month study focused solely on men. The study included both qualitative and quantitative components, surveyed 2,000 men and was focused primarily on defining “What it means to be a man in 2012.” As a married father of three kids, I found the results to be relevant and in many ways therapeutic, as they made me realize that many men are struggling with the same issues I am.

 

According to our findings, men today are primarily interested in being good-hearted, a good friend and in taking care of those around them, including friends and family. Men are increasingly comfortable being caretakers of their children and are taking on more of a role in household shopping and chores. In fact, 68% of men said they would sacrifice career advancement for more time with the family, an astounding 55% said they would love to be a stay-at-home-dad and over 80% said they are solely responsible or heavily involved in grocery shopping, house cleaning, laundry and cooking evening meals. Men today have different goals and values. And today, like women have done for decades, men are increasingly trying to balance work and family life and are now trying to “have it all.”

 

There are many factors we can look towards to identify what has driven these changes in the male mindset. For one, women are increasingly playing a larger role in the workforce — only 51% of men in our survey identify themselves as the primary breadwinner in the family. Further, women are graduating college at a higher pace than men and men fared worse in the recession than women, suffering more than 70% of job losses. For many men, the focus on family is a financial necessity as much as it is something they hoped for. In the qualitative portion of the study, many men whose careers were not impacted also mentioned the recession itself as a factor in putting family first.

 

Technology has also allowed men to develop a deeper relationship with their children. Twenty years ago, people who worked late would remain in the office until after the children were asleep. If they traveled for work, they would be lucky to speak with their kids at all. On a recent business trip, I was able to FaceTime with my family daily, even while walking down the streets of New York City. I routinely come home to put the kids to bed before getting out my laptop and working into the night. Technology also allows me to stay more closely involved with their day-to-day life as many schools now send email updates about class activities as well.

 

Men now have the ability and the desire to be involved in their families like never before, but that does not mean other responsibilities have subsided. The same technology that enables people to see their families also connects them more easily with their office. They are bonding with their families more consistently, but that only makes it more difficult to not see them when work necessitates it. As a result, most of the men I know feel like they are torn daily in many directions. If that sounds familiar, it is because women have felt this way for decades.

 

While many men and women may feel that these changes are desired and even long-awaited, the changes also have a strong potential to complicate the male-female dynamic even further. It is too early to tell yet if the nirvana of work-life balance will be reached, with many couples happily sharing the load of career and home responsibilities, or whether the new dynamic will indeed make both partners feel less satisfied, less accomplished and more burdened by increased pressures to succeed on both fronts. It may be the case that what suffers most is the relationship, stretched very thin by countless priorities.

 

Further, will men morph into the friends, partners or spouses that women actually want? Our survey said more and more men do dishes, clean up around the house, carry kids in Baby Bjorns and change diapers. At the same time, women got together in big groups to see Magic Mike, a film about well-cut male strippers. The best-selling book of 2012, Fifty Shades of Grey, was an S & M tale couched as a love story. Recent billboards for the new show Chicago Fire certainly seem to be selling the men as much as the show’s plot. A recent Old Spice campaign even mocked this by having the very fit Isaiah Mustafa claim “I’m the man your woman wants you to be.” These developments seem to indicate that woman also want men to be sensitive but masculine, fit and heroic. Soon enough we may have men protesting the media’s portrayal of them as an unfair bar for them to live up to. Sound familiar?

 

Adam Carolla recently published a book titled In Fifty Years We Will All Be Chicks. While that may not be entirely true, what is clear is that men in 2012 are motivated differently than their predecessors with their heavy focus on being well-rounded, prioritizing family and community. What remains unclear is the longer term impact this will have in the workforce or at home and if everyone is better off by men trying to have it all.

 

This article originally appeared on The Huffington Post, October 25, 2012.

Men Look to Mobile for Movie Releases

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According to new research from the IAB and InMobi, 40% of men surveyed use their mobile devices to watch movie trailers compared to only 27% of women. And men are leaning on their social networks for advice — with 38% checking friends’ opinions of films vs. 33% of women.

 

“This study clearly shows that mobile is a crucial pathway for movie studios to reach men, whether they are promoting the latest action flick or a serious drama,” says IAB’s Anna Bager.

 

The survey also found that movie trailers are such compelling content, mobile users will sit through a pre-roll ad to get to them. While only 31% of respondents said they had watched a trailer on their mobile devices in the last six months, 83% of those recalled watching an ad before the trailer. More than half of that share (61%) say watched the pre-trailer ad all the way through.

Tablets Not Cannibalizing TV Time

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Some suspect that more time watching video content on tablet devices leads to less time watching “regular” television. However just the opposite is the case according to new research from TDG, which found TV programs rank high on the content lists of the 88% of adult tablet owners who watch video on their de vices.

 

Among the desirable 18-49 year old target that use their tablets to watch online TV programs, 39% report an increase in their regular TV viewing time since becoming tablet owners and 46% report no change in regular TV viewing. Even among users 50+ years old, the net impact is close to zero.

 

Small Adventures: Where Men Go To Be Men

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Men are being totally emasculated in our society today, aren’t we?  Even manly men like Adam Corolla are admitting it. Earlier this year he wrote a book, In 50 Years We’ll All Be Chicks. He gives guys a hard time about their blurred gender roles and poses a lot of questions about where men are headed. Check out what he says in these quotes from the book. Major media outlets like the broadcast networks see it, too. They now green-light shows like “Happy Endings” and “The New Girl,” where guys are nice and polite and aren’t out for only that one thing.

 

As for myself, I can change diapers faster and better than my wife can. I can prepare dinner for my family and still work a full day. In the mornings, I can get the kids off to school without a hitch (don’t tell my wife I said all of this if you see her).

 

But as a 40 year old with two kids, that doesn’t mean I’m not still a guy. I still need to feel like a man sometimes.  I need small adventures to maintain my machismo. For me, it’s about grabbing a few guys and going down to Atlantic City, or out to Las Vegas. Having the time alone, with just my guy friends, where we can be men is needed.

 

In a recent study we did called the Acumen report, themes emerged that turning regular life events into opportunities for male bonding and man time were where men were going to exercise their masculinity. With gender lines blurring in their home lives and their professional lives, outings appear to be where men are now focusing to do specifically manly activities. Men as a part of our 2,000-person report shared some hilarious events in their lives where they are re-inventing the notion of male bonding.

 

Take “Mansgiving,” for example, where one of our research participants explained that he and his friends get together annually, watch all of the “Die Hard” movies, eat steak with their hands, and wipe their hands on their t-shirts to end the movie marathon looking like Bruce Willis as John McClane. Taking the ordinary and making it extraordinary means that guys aren’t just getting together for beers anymore, they are striving to “eventize” their outings. They aren’t just grabbing a burger, they are finding the best hard-to-find burger in their cities, getting their group of friends together, and creating excursions rather than traditional get-togethers.

 

Specific stats from the study include the following:

  • 84% say that every so often men need to challenge themselves, even if it’s weird or stupid; and
  • 55% say they do “marathon” sessions of movie watching, video gaming, etc.

 

Marketers are just starting to tap into this. Campaigns like Corona’s “Find Your Beach” is exactly that. It’s telling guys that they can find their escape in their everyday lives. We’ll certainly start to see more marketers crafting messages to reach the modern man.

 

I’m still a man. I’m just a different kind of a man than my father was. No more of a man, no less. And I need my small adventures so I can keep my manhood alive and well.

 

This article originally appeared on Mediapost Engage:Men October 16, 2102.

Demise of the Doofus Dad

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When it comes to their abilities at raising children or handling anything having to do with the household, dads are feeling a lack of respect. One need look no further than a controversial diaper ad to see their point.

 

When Huggies’ “Dad Test” campaign, featuring flummoxed fathers attempting to care for their newborns, hit the airwaves, dads decided enough was enough. The backlash was swift, and a wave of negative reaction stained the brand’s Facebook page. One faction of fathers even teamed with Change.org to petition Huggies to stop running ads portraying dads as incompetent. It’s clear the fathers of today want the world to know they have moved beyond the stereotypical image of the “doofus dad.”

 

But even with dads participating in domestic life much more than their fathers did, many marketers still struggle to figure out how to reach them. What’s certain is that advertisers cannot rely on what’s worked in the past. Just think about those commercials for laundry detergent in the 1970s. Where was dad? Nowhere—and for good reason. He wasn’t the target audience. Mom was the caretaker, and she, it was understood, made household purchase decisions.

 

But as the family dynamic has changed, with more women becoming educated and entering the workforce and men sharing more of the load at home, the doofus dad nonetheless has remained a fixture in some ad campaigns. So marketers must rethink the images they are putting out there. “If it’s something that people recognize about himself or herself, then they are willing to grin and bear it, but not if they recognize it’s a stereotype that is somewhat insulting,” says Robert Passikoff, founder and president of Brand Keys, a brand consultancy. “Gender becomes less the issue, and authentic and engaging portrayal becomes the mandate.”

 

Excerpted from The Demise of the Doofus Dad in Ads by Heather Chaet, AdWeek, June 11, 2012.

Today’s Man and His Authentic Approach to Style

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As we saw in Break Media’s extensive Acumen study, fashion has become one of the growth areas for the Modern Mensch. As masculinity moves away from being defined by more traditional methods like benching 350 lbs. or drinking two forties, men have become a bit more thoughtful about wardrobe and grooming. Recently, we sat down with Chris Yoon, Director of Design for Calvin Klein menswear, to ask him about current attitudes toward fashion, and how he designs for today’s man.

 

In a way, Yoon fell into fashion design by accident: as a DJ looking to be a record producer, he began doing graphic design for album art before transitioning into t-shirt graphics for urban labels and making the rounds through the urban clothing industry. Today, Yoon guides designers within the clean aesthetics that Calvin Klein is known for, always with an eye toward the latest trends.

 

What those trends are, according to Yoon, can be increasingly difficult to pin down. “Current style trends come from a lot of different places,” Yoon tells us. “It’s free game today. You think about the Sixties and an image pops up in your head for what that decade embodied. It’s hard to pinpoint now. There are so many sub-genres today; it’s like there’s no identity. Look back at 2000 to 2010: it’s a lost identity. Anything goes. There’s so much information out there; it’s really about what attracts the individual.”

 

The traditional trendsetters are still very much in play, however. “Younger guys are very influenced by music and what [musicians] are wearing; today it may be Usher wearing drop crotch pants or LMFAO wearing zebra stripes.” Even television shows such as Madmen have created their own micro fashion trend, evidenced by Banana Republic’s recent Madmen line of clothing. But if the traditional sources are still in play, the Internet has blown the space wide open with a wealth of hemlines, palettes, and ways to accessorize waiting to be studied and adopted by men.

 

“Information is so easily accessible, and coming from so many different sources,” says Yoon, “it’s not just about the big cities dictating trends anymore. Trends are becoming more universal, from Tokyo to Europe to Little Rock. And the Internet facilitates that.” Street bloggers (like thesartorialist.com) who take pictures of people on the street, and sites like Lookbook.nu (where people from all over the world upload pictures of what they’re wearing) flood men with an informal fashion education, and even heighten the obsession by continually providing a new fix with each refresh.

 

Yoon characterizes style today as schizophrenic. “There’s so many choices, but everybody wants all the choices at the same time.” Still, he points toward one common thread that describes what’s in style today: authenticity. “It’s got to feel genuine…there has to be a basis for where it’s coming from: either a classic (like Ray-Ban Wayfarers), or a new twist on a classic. People identify with that. You may exaggerate the lapel a little bit, but the root of the style needs to be identifiable to the consumer.”

 

This focus on authenticity applies far beyond the fashion world; as one of the key themes to emerge from our conversations with men, we discovered that the Modern Mensch looks for authenticity in everything from the mac ‘n cheese he eats to the way he shaves. Today, that link to something classic – whether a harkening back to the past, or a new take on an old theme – is a vital attribute for marketers and brands to highlight in the products and services they provide.

Invasion of the Smartphones

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A study by Lookout suggests Americans are overly fixated and emotionally connected to their mobile devices.

 

Among Americans with smartphones, 58% said they typically don’t go an hour without checking their phones. This behavior is significantly greater among 18-34 year olds (68%) with men in this age group checking their phones more often than women (73% vs. 63% of women). And phone checking takes place everywhere; 54% check their phones while lying in bed, 39% while using the bathroom, and 30% while having a meal with others.

 

Smartphone owners who have lost their phones at one time or another (69%) most often felt “panicked” by the situation (73%). However men were much more likely than women to describe their feelings around the loss as “desperate” vs. panicked. A minority of men also experience their smartphones as both a burden and a blessing—with 9% who’ve misplaced their devices saying they actually felt “relieved.”

 

As Seen on TV: Gen-Y Gender Gap

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Advertisers should take care when reaching out to Millennials because new research from Nielsen shows that males and females in this age demographic are drawn to very different types of TV ads.

 

While both men and women connect with characters they view as similar to themselves, guys identify with other “normal” guys that are placed in extreme or exaggerated situations. Women relate to a more aspirational approach, connecting with happy situations featuring characters who allow a woman to imagine herself in their shoes. Humor also requires a different approach with slapstick, edgy and sarcastic humor resonating highly with men; silly, off-beat humor that’s not mean-spirited appeals more to women.

 

Guys and gals identify differently with tone and theme. Imagery of strong, female celebrities in fun, high-energy situations fosters emotional connections with women. Men tend to be more action-oriented, and competitive scenes and extreme visual images are what the average young man responds to.