Whatever happened to the New Man?

THE CARING, sharing New Man is a fiction dreamed up by the media and the advertising world, and women must carry some of the blame.

According to Kate Edwards, board planner at advertising agency Still Price: Lintas, who spoke last week at the first conference to be held on marketing to men: 'Women created New Man, but they also suffocated and killed him when they found him to be utterly unsexy.'

Men, however, bore the brunt of criticism. Research shows that while they may espouse egalitarian values, the reality is that most still have their feet up on the sofa watching television while their partners do the ironing.

Men are chameleons, according to Frazer Thompson, director of marketing (lagers) at Whitbread. 'What they think and what they say are not necessarily what they do,' he said. 'They talk, for example, about health and fitness, but it's strange how popular eight pints and a curry still are.'

Some men, it was suggested, were more careful about what they said or did in front of women because they were influenced by the climate of political correctness. But in the company of other men, they resorted to more traditional male behaviour.

The evidence piled up at the conference in London, which was organised in association with Marketing Week. Men spend half as much time as women on household duties. Although 75 per cent of respondents in a survey of couple households agreed that the task of washing the evening dishes should be shared equally, only 37 per cent said this happened in reality.

Fiona Stewart, a director of the Henley Centre, the forecasting group, said: 'Despite the more wholehearted espousal of egalitarian attitudes among younger men, there is precious little evidence that things are changing as fast as one might think.'

But changes in employment status may shake men out of their complacency, according to the Henley Centre. Men have borne the brunt of the labour shake-out in the recession. Employers have preferred to reduce the number of full-time jobs and keep on their cheaper and more flexible part- time female workforces. The Centre also predicts that over 80 per cent of all new jobs created over the next few years will be for women.

Ms Stewart said: 'What we are seeing is the steady demise of cradle-to-grave corporate man - in the past, such a potent source of men's identity. Such changes must have an impact on men's self-perceptions.'

Participants in the conference were reluctant to redefine man for the mid to late Nineties. Even advertising executives are beginning to eschew neat categories. Daryl Fielding, a director at Lowe Howard Spink, said: 'The New Man is an old stereotype, but we should resist the temptation to create new ones.'

There was one small crumb of comfort for British men. Their Italian and Spanish counterparts are even more hypocritical, according to pan-European research. Ms Stewart said: 'They go on about the sanctity of marriage, but they've all got mistresses.'

The British male is spending more time shopping, specifically for groceries. But this has been forced on many men as more of their partners are in employment, necessitating a re-negotiation of traditional domestic roles.

David Cook, who is researching a book on masculinity and consumerism, said men are repressed because they do not do enough shopping. Mr Cook, who recently went on a shopping expedition 'in aid of repressed men', argues that men need to 'get involved' in everyday consumer culture. They need to spend more time in supermarkets and fashion shops rather than car showrooms and hi-fi stores.

He welcomes the growth of men's magazines like GQ and Esquire, but urges men to read still more: 'What we really need is a male Cosmo, a male Vogue. We need to get away from that old suspicion that only homosexual men are interested in fashion.'

Mr Cook, who recently concluded a two-year MA degree thesis on men's magazines and consumerism at the Royal College of Art, says the feminist argument that women are manipulated by the consumer process may now be discredited.

He believes that consumer culture is good for both men and women. 'Consumerism has given women a voice. Now men need to get more involved,' he said.

Mr Cook is convinced that this process is already happening, but he has made it his mission to accelerate the process. 'Shopping is fun; it's therapeutic. It's the theatre of triviality,' he said.

Research by Lowe Howard Spink, the advertising agency, backs Mr Cook's claims that men are ready to participate. Men now account for 30 per cent of all grocery purchases. The grocery market is worth pounds 16.5bn.

Men are beginning to take notice of grocery advertising on television but they do not like the hectoring tone of the commercials, nor the frequent portrayal of men as bungling incompetents.

One man told researchers: 'All these ads are designed to appeal to women. Perhaps some women enjoy seeing a man belittled on TV.'

(Photographs and graph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
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 General

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...