Thursday, January 05, 2006

Advertising Aims its Sights at the Male Mental Environment

Strategy Magazine is going to hold a conference in Toronto entitled 'Understanding Men: Metro or Retro?' The aim of the conference is to best learn how to drill down on the target market that is men.

As a part of their email to entice me to event they have included the following snippet of wisdom:

“Men may be more sensitive than we give them credit for. The greatest insult to a guy is "he'll never amount to anything" (29%), while "everyone laughs behind your back" is a close second (24%) and the third most despised snipe is "you're stupid" (21%).”

Ah, the things they research in the advertising industry.

A common question I hear when I am looking for new business is, “Do you have experience advertising for school programs for Americans in the Northwest?” or “Do you have experience making advertising campaigns for bit processors for men in the 35-45 target market?”

But the truth is, people are people, everywhere in the world. We work in the communications industry, so we specialize in speaking a common language that will resonate with people in general. Because people usually don't want to hear about your product, they want to hear about themselves.

Sure, research will occasionally open up a few gems into human nature. Vim determined that women see cleaning the bathroom akin to being in prison, Money's solved the mushy mushrooms at the bottom of your plastic bag problem.

Basically, what I am saying is that advertising is mostly about trusting your gut. It is instinctual. Intuitive. And some people are more tuned into the nuances of human behaviour than others. But in the meantime, researching the most effective ways to push men's buttons only seems to contribute to what Kalle Lasn describes as an assault on our mental environment, with no positive repercussions.

At one point, I would love to conduct an experiment to determine whether it is envy (look at all these happy, smiling people that you wish you could be like), shame (What have you done? Why aren't you doing something with your life?) or wonder (curiosity to try new things and take on new adventures and challenges) that is the primary motivator for human behaviour.


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