Is Yours A 'Mad Men' Brand In A 'Modern Family' World?

If the recent election proved anything, it’s that you don’t win when you appeal to only one part of your audience. Admittedly, I am speaking in generalities, but there’s no arguing whom the Republicans won (older white males with traditional values) and whom they lost.

A phrase that seems to have gotten some traction around the GOP: a “Mad Men” party in a “Modern Family” world.

Brands are in danger of turning into the something similar, particularly when they are trying to connect with men.

The men’s market is changing. Don’t believe me? Just scroll through previous posts here. No doubt, men are becoming more active, engaged consumers who shop a broader swath of categories and do so in a way that’s quite different from earlier generations.

If men as consumers are becoming more broad and diverse, so must the ways we connect with them. Let’s stop issuing the same old appeals aimed squarely at misguided male stereotypes. Here are some things to add to your “don’t” list:



Assume Men are Stupid, Lazy and Immature

Eggo Waffles treats us to a bumbling dad who over-achieves by toasting some waffles for his family. Of course, that’s a big task. It requires 30 minutes and a good amount of diversionary play that distracts him from even accomplishing the breakfast basic: coffee. 

Then, this Super Bowl ad from Dodge Charger recognizes that poor, persecuted men need a reward for performing adult tasks like putting the seat down or putting their underwear in the basket. Are you surprised women responded with this spoof?

Assume a One-Size-Fits-All Definition of Masculinity

This is one of several executions that are part of the “Man Up” campaign from Miller Lite. Each ad takes a different angle on illustrating a universal truth: men who accessorize aren’t manly enough to choose a decent beer.

And, clearly, there’s no way a lesser, less masculine man would know how to choose a truck, certainly not one with the stones of a Ford F150. Finally, a truck with its own genitalia.

Assume It’s Masculine to Put Crap Into Your Body (and Feminine to Care)

Hungry Man recognizes there are some guys who choose to consume things like smoothies. And they deserve the scorn of other, more real men.

And who can forget the work that launched Dr Pepper 10? It painted a compelling picture of what it means to be a man, and it convinced me and other guys the product was no girly diet soda.

Listen, I get it. Stereotypes can be funny. And many of these ads are funny, too. I don’t want to be a wet blanket or to put another set of handcuffs on us in a world overly sensitized to every possible offense.

But, let’s take some learning from all this. Don’t over-generalize. Don’t talk down. And don’t insult one kind of guy to elevate your brand with others. These are important lessons for a changing market. 

And I hope they are campaign promises on which we can all agree.

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