Are You a Retrosexual?

    June 24, 2005
    WebProNews Staff

According to the Associated Press, the creators of the uber-macho, leather-jawed, been-smoking-since-he-finished-nursing Marlboro Man announced that men ain’t really men any more. Even worse, the Marlboro Man’s dead.

Are You a Retrosexual?

At least they had enough sense to present the study in France where a baguette tossed at your pretty head doesn’t hurt as much as the Hardees Monster Heart Attack Thick Burger.

The Leo Burnett advertising agency study investigated how men view their roles in society and how those viewpoints match up with how men are portrayed in advertising. Half of the men surveyed in most parts of the world said they didn’t know what society expected of them. Three-quarters feel the imaging in advertising is out of touch with reality.

Most male-targeted advertising places men in one of two camps. The latest incarnation of man is referred to as the “metrosexual,” a guy who loves shoes, pink shirts, man-purses, and conversations over General Foods International Coffee. They’re refined, sensitive, in touch with their feminine sides and can screech like a 13-year-old girl at an American Idol concert. Doesn’t that Constantine just give you chills?

The other group is for men in their right minds, suddenly dubbed “retrosexuals,” implying that its not cool to be a man anymore. A retrosexual likes sports, beer, hamburgers, breasts, and guns. And, uh, that’s all.

According to Leo Burnett, though, the world is shifting toward more feminine attributes and the advertising world should adjust accordingly.

“As the world is drifting toward a more feminine perspective, many of the social constructs men have taken for granted are undergoing significant shifts or being outright dismantled,” said Tom Bernardin, chairman and chief executive of Leo Burnett Worldwide.

The survey of 2,000 men in 13 countries, 60% defined themselves as either career men or family men, or patriarchs. The patriarchs believed that fatherhood and family are the top priority of their lives.

The other 40% of men in the survey defined themselves in the less traditional sense-the metrosexual. Forty-six percent said they’d prefer to stay home with kids while their wife worked to the wife staying home while they worked for a lower standard of living.

Fifteen percent said they put the “man” in manicure. Gag.

“It’s a confusing time, not just for men, but for marketers as well as they try to target and depict men meaningfully,” said Bernardin at the advertisers conference held in the south of France. “The last thing we want is to look back in 10 years and find that we have unwittingly created the same cliches that female advertising is riddled with.”

The results of the study, according to Leo Barnett, suggest that a shift in the paradigm of masculinity has occurred and the advertising world should adjust their campaigns accordingly.

“Men are far more complex than advertisers give them credit for,” said Linda Kovarik, global planning director for beauty care at Leo Burnett, a unit of French ad group Publicis.

After the meeting, the men for the various agencies met at “Guy’s Patisserie” for a raucous round of wine swishing and “Name That Back Street Boy.”