Thursday, December 8, 2011

Kevin James and the Bro-nanza

To say that Kevin James is typecast is an understatement.  He's a bit on the chubby side, he generally plays a bumbling moron, and he is sometimes accompanied by an unrealistically hot female counterpart.  As women have gained more equal status in the workplace and society in general, the stereotype of the masculine and providing male has morphed men into Kevin James.  Nowhere has this been more evident than in advertising.

While women have been making strides in the working world it is still generally accepted that the woman of the house still makes the purchasing decisions.  Ads for most household items are still targeted at women, and they even play to the "I'm Leah Remini and my husband is Kevin James" mentality.  Many of today's advertisements not only alienate men from the purchase decision, but they are downright crude about it.  No ad is more offensive to men than the Avery Full Stick Label commercial called "Fantasy Football Draft."

The wife demeans and emasculates her husband and his hobby.  She does this with a smirk as he shrugs and sulks in the corner like a child that has been reprimanded.  Not only is this commercial generally accepted by the public, but it's viewed as humor.

On the flip side of this coin is the other type of advertising geared at men: What I like to call "the Bromercial."  These are the ads that portray all men as rowdy frat boys who like to break free of the shackles of family life (and nagging wives who ruin his Fantasy Draft).  These ads show a guy hanging with the guys.  They portray life as chummy and shallow, with men being only in pursuit of "non-feminine" activities.

I read a story this morning about a new campaign Pepsi Max is running in New Zealand.  If you enter a code from a bottle of Max you can test your "Bromitment" and be entered to win a trip to go skydiving or a vacation to go to Spain during the Running of the Bulls.  Obviously all men want to do manly things like get gored by a bull.  This is, after all, the only decision that a man can make on his own; buy a Pepsi and jump out of a plane.

As these incorrect male stereotypes continue to be perpetuated by advertisers, brands are going to miss out on more and more male-directed spending.  A Yahoo study about dad-driven consumer behavior found that most men feel isolated and left out of the purchase of child-care items.  Men are playing a more equal role in parenting, and some men are even stay-at-home dads.  Marketers need to understand this shift and stop portraying men as dumb frat boys or dumb pushovers.  Women in advertising are portrayed as the diverse and multi-faceted beings that they are.  It's about time men in advertising get a fair shake too.

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