Let’s not kid ourselves, in 2020 “successful men” are still shown mostly in stereotypical ways, usually seen as being super fit, unemotional, wealthy and really good at what they do. If shown as a family man, he is the heroic provider. He can also be a wild adventurer, a workaholic, a smart person who seems to juggle all responsibilities effortlessly. Think 007, David Beckham, or even James Corden, the funny man who built “success” and “wealth” by making us laugh – a lot.
Fernando Desouches heads up BBD Perfect Storm New Macho where he spends his time working on brand advertising and campaigns for brands targeting male audiences.
In my conversation with Fernando, he points to this narrow portrayal of men and explains that it puts massive pressure on men to always excel in their every endeavour. This pressure means that, often in pursuit of “success”, men are often forced to disconnect from their true feelings, desires and emotions –worse still, disconnecting from others. Sadly, men often fill this emotional gap by displaying extreme behaviours – they turn into workaholics, design intense exercise regimes, or pursue other reclusive or extreme hobbies – and the results are not good.
Fernando explains “the truth is that men do crack under pressure.” In fact, “millennials in the UK have the second worse mental health wellbeing in the world after Japan”. Fernando talks about men being in a transition – in between the old macho and a new more nuanced male identity – and this “limbo” is a tough place to be right now.
Still, how can brands help men?
It’s time to open up this narrow narrative for men. Fernando believes that being a “successful” man is being able to connect to our feelings and emotions. It’s up to brands to offer a more varied portrayal of men and to “hold a space for men to be themselves” – this is the vital role that brand communication can play. In doing so, we can start to build a better future for generations to come.
Tune into Episode 5 of The Grandkids Test podcast for the full interview below, or in any podcast app: