NEWS29 October 2015

The new weaker sex

Media News Retail UK

UK — Men quietly welcome the shift in gender roles but their public views often differ from their private views said Peter Totman, director of Jigsaw Research in the opening session at today’s Customers Exposed conference from the Market Research Society.


Drawing on insights from all male research groups and talking to male ad agency creatives, Totman presented his “impressionistic session” that showed that while men are enjoying a more balanced life with emotional freedom, range and nuance, it was all still “slight and slow”.

He urged marketers to listen carefully to men to hear their private, individualistic views, as the private view often differs to the public. For instance, while in a group environment men named their heroes as people such as Nelson Mandela, actor Clint Eastwood and footballer, Bryan Robson; in private, they cited footballer David Beckham, gay rights activist Peter Tatchell, Eastenders character Ian Beale and actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

When asked about how they felt about male stereotypes in advertising the response was generally along the lines of ‘it’s not pretty but we take it on the chin’. However Totman pointed out that when asked about it in a different way, the response changed and men referred to it as a ‘one dimensional species with life-limiting narrowness’.

“There is no real contact being made between advertisers and customers. They are feeding back that men see the world uncritically and its dispiriting,” said Totman.

In fact, women are more likely to complain about derogatory male images than men.”It’s back to macho codes, real men don’t whine,” said Totman.”They don’t want to come over all Fathers for Justice.”

He pointed to how market researchers were often better at building relationships rather than relying on stereotypes and the superficial. “We assume depth and complexity and we normalise it in a group and men respond in a different way,” said Totman.However he cautioned that when it comes to ad development research, there may be a need to change the format so that they don’t “formalise that feedback loop”.

So, he called on male creatives in ad agencies to be more creative and take more risks in their depictions of male roles in ads, saying there was a brand-building opportunity in it.