Monthly Archives

September 2013

When Brands Bash Dads

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Here’s a tale of two brands that bashed dads and caused big uproars—but only one company came out ahead in the end.


In one corner, Huggies ran a commercial that depicted dads so engrossed in sports on TV that they weren’t paying attention to their babies—the “ultimate test” for the diaper’s performance.  Many viewers were offended by the portrayal of neglectful dads and made it known across Facebook, blogs and even a petition on Huggies responded with an apology on Facebook and by revamping the whole ad. In the new spot, the voiceover says: “to prove Huggies diapers can handle anything, we asked real dads to put them to the test,” a completely different viewpoint that empowers parents.


In the other corner, Clorox ran what they thought was a humorous blog post this summer titled “6 mistakes new dads make,” such as letting baby eat off the floor or putting her clothing on backwards. “Like dogs or other house pets, new Dads are filled with good intentions but lacking the judgment and fine motor skills to execute well,” the post reads. Again there was an uproar. Within 24 hours, the blog post was down, but Clorox was initially mum. The company eventually apologized on Facebook, explaining their blogger was trying to be funny, but it was too little too late.


It seems there are a few lessons here for brands. First, men (and women) are beyond tired of portrayals of doofus dads—even ones that attempt to be silly. The Homer Simpson image of an inept father doesn’t sell products, it just offends people. A good test: how would the ad go over if you replace the word “dad” with “mom?”


Second, brands need to take care how they poke fun at dads. Men respond to humor in advertising, but it should be coupled with a dose of empathy. “Whether with humor or a more straightforward approach, marketers should acknowledge that life feels harder for men and show how their brand can help,” JWT Intelligence writes in The State of Men.


And finally, advertisements that portray real, capable fathers hit the mark not only with men but with all audiences. For their part, Huggies ended up with an even better commercial in the end.

Addicted to Scheduled TV

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Unborn generations may someday marvel that people ever watched live TV, what with the inconvenience that comes with watching your favorite show at a scheduled time.


Today nearly 8 in 10 Americans watch TV on their own schedule, according to a poll conducted by Harris Interactive. Top methods include cable/satellite on-demand (41 percent); DVR (37 percent); Netflix streaming (30 percent); purchasing, renting or borrowing DVDs (29 percent) and Hulu (22 percent).


Men are more likely to watch TV on their own schedule (81 percent vs. 76 percent for women) particularly via the method of purchasing, renting or borrowing DVDs (33 percent of men vs. 26 percent of women). Similarly the under 40 crowd is far more likely to watch on their own schedule (89 percent) vs. people 40-54 (78 percent) and people 55+ (67 percent).


With the availability of these technologies, “binge viewing”—watching multiple episodes at a time—is a growing phenomenon reported by 62 percent of respondents. Men are somewhat less likely to binge with only 60 percent reporting this behavior vs. 63 percent of women.


Although live TV sandwiched with commercials is far from dead (a recent Nielsen report found 87 percent of broadcast viewing is still done live), advertisers must adjust to this new reality where they can’t reach consumers via subscriber services like Amazon Instant and Netflix.

Smartphones in the Sack

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We’re attached at the hip to our smartphones, but it gets much more intimate than that. A national study by Jumio revealed that 1 in 10 Americans use their phones during sex—for what we can only imagine. That number jumps to 1 in 5 for people aged 18-34, according to the survey of more than 2,000 online U.S. adults.


Mobile phone use has expanded to other bizarre frontiers, from the shower (12 percent) to church (19 percent). More than half of people use them while driving. Overall, 7 in 10 people stay within 5 feet of their smart phones most of the time—quite a short tether.


Life seems to stop when you lose your phone, and we all dread the idea. Our biggest fears? Theft of personal information sparks the most concern (65 percent) followed by losing contact with others (58 percent). About half of people password protect their phones, but maybe more folks should, because 30 percent admitted they snoop on others’ phones.


As the love affair with our phone deepens, here’s one trend that’s not surprising: 12 percent of respondents said their phone gets in the way of their romantic relationships.

Redefining Mr. Mom

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In the 1983 comedy Mr. Mom, Michael Keaton plays a bumbling house husband forced into domestic life when his wife goes back to work. He wears her apron, wreaks havoc in the kitchen and lets his children mummify themselves in toilet paper.


Thirty years later, the image couldn’t be more different. Men are more engaged in domestic life than ever, but not wearing a frilly apron. They’re proudly carving out their own role as co-parent and co-manager of the household and creating a home life that is more playful, outdoorsy and technologically oriented.


“Shared responsibility—in terms of household tasks and child care—is the new ethos. Men aren’t yet doing an equal share, but they’re just as concerned as women about achieving a work-life balance,” JWT Intelligence writes in their State of Men report.


Guys do twice as much housework as in 1965, and they’ve nearly tripled the amount of time doing child care, from 2.5 to 7.3 hours per week. Though they often find themselves at home out of economic necessity, they also want a stronger bond with their family. Two-thirds of men would stay home with their family full time if they could afford to, JWT’s surveys found.


Most men feel that balancing work and family is as tough for them as it is for women—with different expectations. For instance, when men take sick leave to care for kids, studies show that coworkers perceive them as weak.


When it comes to domestic tasks, guys aren’t inept; they just want to be efficient and successful. Tide came up with its ready-to-dispense detergent pods with men in mind (they also put quarterback Drew Brees on the package).


Gone are the days when advertisers can poke fun at the clueless Michael Keaton version of Mr. Mom. Instead, marketers should portraying real dads tackling household challenges their own way, and having fun connecting with their family at the same time. Brands that hit the mark will tap into men’s increasing purchasing power for household goods. Guys spend an average of $36 in the grocery store in 2012, compared to $27 in 2004, according to Nielsen.

Today’s Teenagers Are a New Breed

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As practical as they are passionate, a second wave of Millennials is prepping to make their mark on the world—and they’re not even 18 yet. But don’t expect them to follow in the footsteps of older Millennials. A study from MTV reveals that 14- to 17-year-olds have quite a different outlook than 20-somethings.


“Millennials are one of the most analyzed, scrutinized, criticized and even glorified generations ever. But what much of Millennial research fails to recognize is that there are two distinct groups within the generation,” the study says.


People in their 20s were raised by rosy-lensed Boomer parents during an era of economic prosperity. They were told that they were special and could change the world. In contrast, younger Millennials grew up during tougher economic times. Their pragmatic Gen-X parents may not have told them that the world is their oyster, but instead that they must create their own oyster.


This attitude has empowered a youth culture of DIY specialization. MTV’s surveys found that the vast majority of young Millennials take pride in being an expert at something, and 7 in 10 watch YouTube videos to learn about and pursue their passion. Specializing may be a strategy to prosper in what they perceive as difficult times.


“They came of age in an economic downturn, seeing college grads struggling with huge student loan debt and living through a cascade of social media-amplified tragedies like Hurricane Sandy and Sandy Hook,” the report says. Three out of four 14- to 17-year-olds worry about the future of the economy, and 60 percent are “very stressed about getting into a good high school or college.” Half are afraid of violence at school.


Still, they remain optimistic that they can prepare and plan for the future they desire. Don’t be surprised to find them researching scholarships and career paths before they even reach high school—84 percent of young Millennials say “it’s really important to always be prepared and have a plan.”


And unlike the digital pioneers now in their 20s, teens don’t need to be plugged in all day. More than half said they like to take a break from technology to do something with their hands and 8 in 10 agree that sometimes they just need to unplug.


“We are especially impressed to see how Millennial teens are resiliently and optimistically responding to adversity and preparing to win in the game of life,” said Stephen Friedman, President of MTV.

What a Blog Can Teach Marketers About Men

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There are many male-specific content destinations, but one of the best executed that we’ve seen is the blog The Art of Manliness. For marketers targeting a male demographic, studying The Art of Manliness’ success can glean some useful insights.


Fully Embrace The Male Audience Your Targeting – If your goal is to target a male audience, then do that without equivocation. The Art of Manliness’ mission is right there in the title of the blog itself. And, when you spend any time reading or listening to The Art of Manliness podcast, you get exactly what the title promises – content almost exclusively for a male audience’s consumption.


And, we’d argue, The Art of Manliness has achieved this goal remarkably well. Well-written, engaging content, all of specific interest to its audience, without veering into churlish, juvenile content that people often assume that “men” are interested in.


Unique Content or Advertising That’s Immediately Recognizable – In a vast sea of online content sites and blogs, many of them built on a generic theme or visual design, The Art of Manliness is instantly recognizable. It has long used a unique graphic style of images and photos with a turn-of-the-century aged style that is all its own. If you read more than one article on The Art of Manliness, you quickly recognize and associate its brand with this unique graphic style.


Content Marketing Strategies:  In the age of Google-driven digital discovery of brands mixed with consumers’ resistance to hard-sell advertising, content marketing allows brands to offer useful, helpful content that ultimately moves potential customers down the path to acquiring or buying your product or service.


The Art of Manliness has taken its mission to heart and created a wide variety of rich content ranging from its extremely popular article – “Learn How To Shave Like Your Grandpa” – that spread virally via social media to physical fitness articles such as “A Primer on Krav Maga: The Combative System of the Israeli Defense Forces.”


And The Art of Manliness shows how to mine the content that resonates with your audience – to create even more content. Building on that 2008 successful shaving article, The Art of Manliness has subsequently produced a video about using a straight razor and published additional articles about using a straight razor and even an eBook about straight razor techniques.


Excerpted from What A Popular Blog Can Teach Marketers About Targeting A Male Audience, by Jamie Goin, MediaPost, July 25, 2013

Pressure to Look Perfect

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Chiseled abs. Tailored clothes. Styled hair. Today’s men feel as much pressure as women to look good, according to a report from JWT Intelligence. Three-quarters of men surveyed said that expectations for them to have a fit body and polished appearance are as high as for women, and also higher than in the past.


When it comes to their bodies, men are most insecure about their midsections. Forty percent of men surveyed say their beer bellies cause them anxiety, and a third feel insecure about their man boobs, love handles and six-packs (or lack thereof). The number of male patients using Botox increased by 27 percent from 2011 to 2012.


“The constant sharing of photos on social media and the hyper-competitiveness of job markets are helping to drive pressure on men to look their best: fashionable, well-groomed and in shape,” the report says.


Image conscious men—especially younger guys—are driving one of the fastest growing segments in the beauty industry: male grooming products. From skin care products to “manscara” and new lines of male makeup, global revenues hit nearly $33 billion in 2011 and are seeing a 6 percent bump each year.


The findings suggest brands should dial down the intimidation factor of their advertising. Rather than plastering a billboard with another set of impossible abs, companies should demonstrate how their products help men look and feel their best.

Millennials Blur Gender Lines

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Your grandpa didn’t wear bracelets, lip balm or the color pink. He didn’t clip recipes or moisturize. But younger men today are more comfortable with these things and more—casting off traditional masculinity in favor of more fluid gender roles, JWT Intelligence writes in The State of Men.


Three quarters of men surveyed for the report agree that men and women no longer need to conform to traditional roles and behaviors. Leading the trend are Millennials, who value individuality more than traditional gender norms. Behind them, Generation Z likely will have even less rigid views about gender as they mature into adulthood.


“We’re moving toward a more nuanced concept of gender that questions some stereotypes and revises old assumptions,” the report says.


In the fashion realm, female accessories are becoming more widely accepted by men; especially guys aged 18-34. When asked whether it is acceptable for men to wear a “man bag,” 37 percent of all men (and 51 percent of Millennials) said yes. More than a third of men say pink is an acceptable color, and men’s bracelets have become more widely accepted.


When it comes to male grooming, products like moisturizers are solidly mainstream (54 percent of men approve). Meanwhile, more obscure products like male makeup are gaining attention. Concealers, skin lighteners and eyeliner are widely used by men in Asia and even in the U.S., one in ten Millennial men are comfortable with the idea of male foundation.

Dressing for a Simpler Time

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Men are harking back to a bygone era when a gentleman shaved every day, shined his shoes and wore a bow tie. According to the Acumen Report, 44 percent of men look to prior generations for style inspiration and JWT Intelligence reports that Millennials—more so than their elders—are nostalgic for a masculinity of the past.


“With gender divisions getting blurry, some men—and especially Millennials—are looking to the past for inspiration on style and skills from generations where male identity was more distinctively expressed,” JWT writes in The State of Men. Icons for this “retrosexual” style trend range from Mad Men’s Don Draper to Justin Timberlake, who donned a classic tux for his new album cover (with a single called “Suit and Tie.”)


While vintage style is nothing new, companies are increasingly riding the wave of nostalgia to market to men. For old school brands like Levi’s or Jack Daniels, it’s easy to tap into their long histories to capture male customers. But we’re also seeing newer brands look to previous generations for style cues. For instance, Dollar Shave Club sells its simple, single-blade razors on the premise that they were good enough for “handsome pappy.” The Art of Shaving (owned by Proctor and Gamble) is also capitalizing on retro male grooming trends with its online and retail stores. And movements like Movember glorify the classic mustache for a good cause.


“There is no question men today are relating to and gravitating towards brands that can tell a story,” Andy Tu writes for Mediapost. “If that story can leverage history or nostalgia, it makes for a strong vehicle to engage men and build brand relationships.”

Downward Slope of Male Earnings

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The decline of two-parent households may be a significant reason for the divergent fortunes of male workers, whose earnings generally declined in recent decades, and female workers, whose earnings generally increased, a prominent labor economist argues in a new survey of existing research.


David H. Autor, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, says that the difference between men and women, at least in part, may have roots in childhood. Only 63 percent of children lived in a household with two parents in 2010, down from 82 percent in 1970. The single parents raising the rest of those children are predominantly female. And there is growing evidence that sons raised by single mothers “appear to fare particularly poorly,” Professor Autor writes. Men who are less successful are less attractive as partners, so some women are choosing to raise children by themselves, in turn often producing sons who are less successful and attractive as partners.


The fall of men in the workplace is widely regarded by economists as one of the nation’s most important and puzzling trends. While men, on average, still earn more than women, the gap between them has narrowed considerably, particularly among more recent entrants to the labor force.


For all Americans, it has become much harder to make a living without a college degree. Women have responded exactly as economists would have predicted, by going to college in record numbers. Men, mysteriously, have not.


A growing share of lower-income children are raised by their mother but not their father, and research shows that those children are at a particular disadvantage.


Professor Autor said in an interview that he was intrigued by evidence suggesting the consequences were larger for boys than girls. One study of households where the father had less education, or was absent entirely, found the female children were 10 to 14 percent more likely to complete college.


But some experts cautioned that Professor Autor’s theory did not necessarily imply that such children would benefit from the presence of their fathers.


“Single-parent families tend to emerge in places where the men already are a mess,” said Christopher Jencks, a professor of social policy at Harvard University. Instead of making marriage more attractive, he said, it might be better for society to help make men more attractive.


Excerpted from “Study of Men’s Falling Income Cites Single Parents,” The New York Times, March 20, 2013.