Claire Beale On Advertising: Dove goes in search of the real man

Yesterday was Super Bowl Sunday and America tuned in. For US advertisers it’s the biggest event of the year. You can do things with a TV ad in the Super Bowl that you can’t do anywhere else. Like reach 100 million people in one place. You can move a nation.

This is testosterone television, so it’s no surprise that one of the world’s biggest advertisers chose the Super Bowl to launch a new matrix for advertising to men. Unilever has just lifted the wraps on a male grooming range. Now (once you’ve dismissed horses and poodles) grooming will probably conjure thoughts of gauche geeks drenched in cheap girl-bait, peck-pumped sports jocks in sweaty changing rooms or too-beautiful models with hairless torsos and curled lips. Like most other advertising, we have a narrow band of stereotypes to draw on when it comes to selling male toiletries.

Which is why Unilever is trying something different. Its new line is an extension of the Dove brand, called Dove Men + Care, and the ads are hoping to do for the portrayal of men in media and advertising a little bit of what Dove did for images of women. Or at least raise the debate.

You see, the Dove brand was built on the Campaign for Real Beauty idea. You might remember the iconic posters: ordinary women in their underwear. All shapes and sizes. Nothing unacceptably wobbly or droopy or pock-marked, but far from beauty ad norm. And the noise the campaign generated was enormous. It sold plenty of soaps and moisturisers too.

So now it’s the blokes’ turn. According to Matt Close, marketing director for home and personal care at Unilever in the UK, three-quarters of men find it difficult to identify with the men they see in advertising and feel stereotyped and misrepresented; only 3 per cent strongly agree that they are realistically portrayed.

Close says men over 35 – the target market for the new Dove line – are generally very comfortable with who they are and where they’re at in their lives and don’t relate to the heavy emphasis on power, celebrity and striving for achievement that they’re constantly being bombarded with in ads.



So the Dove Men + Care ads by Ogilvy, which are coming to a TV screen near you in the UK very soon, star real men (and women). Oh, and that’s real men, by the way, not reeeal men. And they have a little fun with the midlife male condition. The ad features a song, to the tune of Rossini’s “William Tell Overture” (or The Lone Ranger theme, depending on your cultural predilections). “You’ve reached a stage where you feel at ease. You’ve come this far and it wasn’t a breeze.

“You can take on anything, of course you can! Because you’re a MAN!”

It’s not a great ad. You can hear the brief in every scene. Not for a UK audience, anyway. It’s a little too multinational, too saccharine. It lacks the simple clarity of the Dove posters for women, though maybe that task will be left to other media. And the thing is, men simply don’t have such a problem with the way they’re already portrayed in advertising as women do. They might not relate to it very well, but they’re not disturbed by it. They don’t feel that how they look is really so important. Even Unilever’s own research found that only 1 per cent of men think their physique is their most attractive quality (sense of humour and personality are way out in front). See. Guys aren’t so hung up on whether they’ve got a bump-free bum or pert pecks.

But Unilever’s ad could be the start of something, the start of a more interesting and engaging way of telling men that they don’t have to be 16 and desperate for sex, or a buffed model or a sporting titan to want to smell better than a stale samosa. They can just be themselves. That’s OK. 100 million Americans might just be starting to agree.

Best in show: Mr Brain’s Faggots (Quiet Storm)

Mr Brain’s Faggots understands British men. I know that because I’ve just seen their new TV commercial by Quiet Storm. Unlikely as it sounds, it’s really rather good.

Admittedly, it’s easier to sell normal blokes processed meat and ready meals than it is to sell them something that makes them smell nice and makes their skin soft.

But this nails the hungry man moment wonderfully. Our man in this ad is a hero. He’s a hero because he’s nailed down that loose bit of carpet on the stairs. His kids are in awe. His wife adores him. And he’s rewarded for his manly efforts with faggots for tea. Lovely.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Extras
indybest
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Sport
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
football
News
Ronahi Serhat, a PKK fighter, in the Qandil Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Poet’s corner: Philip Larkin at the venetian window of his home in 1958
booksOr caring, playful man who lived for others? A new book has the answer
Arts and Entertainment
Exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Metz - 23 May 2012
art
News
Matthew McConaughey and his son Levi at the game between the Boston Red Sox and the Houston Astros at Fenway Park on August 17, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.
advertisingOscar-winner’s Lincoln deal is latest in a lucrative ad production line
Life and Style
Pick of the bunch: Sudi Pigott puts together roasted tomatoes with peppers, aubergines and Labneh cheese for a tomato-inspired vegetarian main dish
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'
film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel you sales role is li...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £45000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Key featuresA highly motivated ...

Creative Content Executive (writer, social media, website)

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum + 25 days holiday and bonus: Clearwater People Solut...

Legal Recruitment Consultant

Highly Competitive Salary + Commission: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL BASED - DEALING ...

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape