Unilever's ART Launch To Craft Better Marketing Messages For Men

Unilever will launch a worldwide training program in March — ART — to help the company's marketers focus on Authenticity, Relevance and Talkability in advertising and marketing messages for its products.

Speaking at the 2015 ANA Brand Masters Conference in Dana Point, Calif., Kathy O'Brien, VP of skin and marketing services at Unilever, said the program followed the introduction of Crafting Brands for Life, a program Unilever launched 18 months ago to help marketers get closer to the audience.

Crafting a narrative to reach market segments that are undergoing some pretty major changes isn't easy. There's a shift in the way men think about themselves, and it's surfacing in television and digital advertisements at Unilever. The brand message has become less about getting the girl, and more about discovery.



O'Brien said only 7% of men think they way they are depicted accurately in the media, and nine out of 10 men think their caring side is a sign of real strength and masculinity.

Households are becoming more gender equal. The number of stay-at-home dads taking care of children has doubled in the past 15 years, and men are taking on more domestic roles such as with cooking, she said — jokingly adding that she'd be eating cereal for dinner if not for her husband's cooking. Staying at home with the kids means men have more time to enjoy moments and take photos. Men are active in posting photos on social media a few times weekly, making it more important than ever to learn how to bring value to men. 

EMarketer estimates that men accounted for 77 million social network users in 2013 and 82.1 million in 2014 — and projects this will rise to 85.6 million in 2015, reaching 96 million by 2019.

To understand how Unilever crafts brands for men, O'Brien said it's important to look at how masculinity and strength have evolved. She follows the steps to the pillars needed to craft brands for men. The message must shift away from generics. Put people first such as using "you" and away from "consumers" and "shoppers." The message should center on three evolving trends: masculinity evolution, building brand love through real storytelling, and making magic through immersive experiences.

The company has also been experiencing change. Last month, Unilever consolidated all of its search engine optimization and search engine marketing efforts at Resolution Media.

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