Advertisers eye the man market

Last updated 05:00 23/06/2011
Hamish Coleman-Ross

"Man-vertising" has become a popular approach for advertisers. We find out if it's having the desired effect. By Hamish Coleman-Ross.

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Man moisturiser, man yoghurt, and now man bread - goods just for gentlemen are flooding stores in a move to "reclaim the man market".

The products, such as Mammoth's "man-gurt", are aimed specifically at males, many using bloke humour in their advertising to entice their audience.

While some, like Burgen's men's well-being bread, are claiming genuine health benefits, others appear to have simply jumped on the man-wagon - including the New Zealand Transport Agency with its "mantrol" message for drunk drivers.

So why the sudden man-push? And can food really be just for guys?

Marketing expert Mike Lee, a senior lecturer from Auckland University, says he believes the sudden rise in advertising aimed at men stems from a couple of decades of neglect.

"Because of women's lib, no-one has really wanted to go there," Lee said.

"But now these new ads are re-targeting men, kind of taking the piss a little bit. They're reclaiming the man market."

Lee said the companies' use of humour prevented most of the ads from being too patronising or offensive, and worked well in getting attention from the male audience.

"They're basically taking men and making them manly again - and guys see it and think 'that's pretty funny, I'll give that a go'."

Mammoth brand manager Mike Rutledge said a tongue-in-cheek approach was what the yoghurt company had aimed for.

Research showed men stopped buying yoghurt as soon as they hit 30, meaning there was a gap in the market, Rutledge said.

Rutledge said they not only changed the product - making it thicker and in a bigger container - they made it something special for men.

"We asked, 'how would a guy brand act?'. It's a space normally used by beer brands, so we really had to push it to make it work."

"We couldn't pretend like yoghurt was a balm for a lack of manliness, we had to make it more something that was ok for men to eat."

And, he says, the campaign has worked - so well that Mammoth now has an ice cream and an iced coffee range.

Meanwhile, breadmakers Burgen have taken a different approach - producing a men's wellbeing bread that they say has real health benefits.

Burgen nutrition manager Kathy Usic said the bread contained soy isoflavones, a nutrient that had a positive on prostate health.

"For them, she said, it was not about marketing but more about holistic promotion.

"Burgen is not a fad brand. The health benefits gave it a legitimate reason for it to be for men," she said.

However, nutritionist Kath Fouhy said while men did have different requirements, most foods - including the bread - were just as good for women.

Though the bread had added isoflavones - which are good for prostate health - it didn't have the number one antioxidant for combating prostate problems, lycopene.

"However, the key thing is that if it makes more men eat wholegrain, high fibre bread that's got to be good," she said.

Mammoth's yoghurt was bigger, higher in fat and had added grains and protein compared to a standard yoghurt, Fouhy said.

"And men have bigger energy requirements, so the yoghurt will provide more energy," she said.

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But as for the blokey ads proclaiming beer as the answer to all non-manly sins:

"They certainly don't need any more encouragement to drink more beer."

- Stuff

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