Why brands need to look at masculinity differently

BBD Perfect Storm’s ‘specialist male division’ New Macho is devoted to looking at new ways of presenting the male experience in advertising and marketing. We talk to ECD Seb Hill about how far we’ve come and what brands can do better

When New Macho, a specialist male division at agency BBD Perfect Storm was set up, the plan was to help brands grow through a “new positive male narrative” and pave the way to “sustainable gender balance”. Led by managing director Fernando Desouches, for the agency it’s not only about addressing the detrimental effect advertising is having on men, but also the wider impact that can have on society.

“At the time, it was a big sell to everyone in the agency. That was the biggest hurdle because initially the general consensus was: ‘Oh poor men. Don’t they have it really hard’. And I get that and I also had my reservations,” ECD Seb Hill tells CR. “But when you dig deeper and you see the way men and boys are brought up, how they behave and the impact of that, we just had to take people on that journey.”

To demonstrate that their thinking was more than just instinct or anecdotal, the team commissioned their first report in 2019. “It was about the way men see success, and the idea that money, glamour, material things and fame was the way men and boys define success,” says Hill. “There was nothing we didn’t know, but it helped cement everything that we’d been talking about, ideas around ‘real men don’t crack under pressure’, ‘losing is a sign of weakness’, ‘if you’re popular, you’re more desirable’. It was very reflective of what we were seeing in advertising as well.”

Top and abve: Dad Time Stories campaign for Dove Men by New Macho, BBD Perfect Storm