A new year often means new beginnings and resolutions. For men in 2013, it is going to bring in a new era. While men used to be beholden to honey-do lists, this year men will embark on their own projects and use them as a time to exercise their masculinity. A couple of months ago, I wrote about men seeking and embracing small adventures to get in their “guy time.” Expanding on that, men are now shepherding a new wave of homegrown projects earmarked as "guy only" pastimes.
A generation ago, these passion projects were things like having a fixer-upper car or keeping a leaky boat parked in the driveway that men would work on in their spare time. The new wave of household projects may be as small as cooking a meal from scratch, or a bigger undertaking like crafting a tree house for their kids.
If you layer on the network effect of social media, specifically Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, men won't just be completing these projects, they'll be showing them off to their communities as well. If you don’t think men will leverage video to tell their story, even President Obama is showing off his side project, and his team’s craft beer project has achieved more than 500k views this year. These moments will be used as opportunities to say, I’m a man, look what I did (it may even compensate for watching “Downton Abbey”).
I saw a video last year created by Schwood sunglasses that captures this notion of the maker, while also showcasing many things about what I think brands are doing well in video. First, wearing my video company hat, this is an amazing way to create branded entertainment. It isn't a commercial, it’s content. It has integrity without being overtly advertising. Second, from a production perspective, it’s beautifully shot, effectively uses short form, and tells a story. Third, it showcases men having passion for their side projects. These guys are doing something for the sheer fun of it and their love of the pastime sings through.
How are brands preparing for this notion of the maker? It’s happening on two fronts. There is a new generation of emerging brands (like Schwood) that are speaking directly to this audience of men who don’t feel they need to fit into a traditional mold. Brands like Best Made have empowered men to look at their side projects as adventures, and they provide the tools that help men do amazing things. Big brands are in on the game, too.
If you’re like me, you’ve sat in awe of the new Cadillac CTS commercials this year. The old car ad would have amazing hero shots of the car zipping through the open winding road with leaves blowing from behind it. Instead these ads used professional drivers, took them out of their helmets and racing “unisuits” and showed them as enthusiasts. They’re using the CTS to fuel their passion project. They showcased men doing what they love; imagine if driving is your side project, you’re definitely in line for a test drive.
It all comes back to the maker, the notion that men work hard so that they can pursue their true passions when they aren’t on the clock. So dust off your old 10-speed, sharpen your butcher’s knife, and remember to wear safety goggles when using power tools. It’s time to get on that side project. Men everywhere are doing it.