BEYOND TESTOSTERONE: A Man In Full Retreat As The New Ideal Emerges
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BEYOND TESTOSTERONE: A Man In Full Retreat As The New Ideal Emerges
It was just a matter of time

BEYOND TESTOSTERONE: A Man In Full Retreat As The New Ideal Emerges
It was just a matter of time. The prestige of traditionally masculine personality traits has been falling for years as people link them to all sorts of anti-social behavior. Now, an article in the March Bazaar says people are coming to prefer men’s faces that are more feminine than the old Marlboro Man ideal. The writer, Susan C. Vaughan, interviews a designer of mannequins who takes care that his male ones not look overly masculine, lest they be “seen as Neanderthal or even as murderers and rapists.” And she describes a study in which photos of men’s and women’s faces were digitally tweaked to yield more feminized and masculinized versions. Unsurprisingly, people preferred the more feminine female faces, but they also preferred the femininized renderings of the men. “It turns out that both sexes believed that the feminized male face was indicative of a man who was warmer, more emotionally available, more honest, more cooperative and a better parent than the one with hyper-masculine features.” None of this should surprise us in an era when the word “testosterone” is a term of opprobrium as often as not. As a sign of the times, is it any wonder that the best-looking man in Shakespeare in Love is played by Gwyneth Paltrow? If the ascendance of feminized looks is a long-term trend, it can’t help but have implications for the faces we see in ads and on packaging. Can we expect to see a Leonardo DiCaprio-zation of old bulls like Mr. Clean and the man on Brawny paper towels? Don’t bet against it.
TIES THAT BIND: Brands vs. Spouses
Maybe brand loyalty isn’t as strong as it once was. But polling by DiMassimo Brand Advertising of New York finds it’s holding up better than marital loyalty. Among respondents who are loyal to brands, 61 percent confessed to cheating on their spouses. There was wide variation depending on the categories in which a person is brand loyal. For instance, those faithful to personal-hygiene brands were far less likely to cheat than those devoted to their banks. Elsewhere in the research, Colgate loyalists were half as likely as Skippy partisans to say they’d cheat, while Pepsi drinkers were more likely to wander than those who are loyal to Gap jeans. Since loyalty does not emerge overnight, 42 percent of brand-loyal respondents don’t believe in love at first sight.
ALL OVER THE MAP: Adding Up Adweek’s Classified Ads for Jobs
The market for jobs in advertising, marketing and media could politely be described as volatile. Stone cold at the end of ’98, showing incipient signs of life in January, swinging widely from week to week in February (before ending the month on the downside). You wouldn’t want a job that obliges you to guess what’s next. But the year-to-date numbers do hint at some regional divergences in the making.
THEY’LL SPEND: Novice Beau Brummells
Along with their more conspicuous shortcomings, young men are guilty of another lapse: They’re lacking in “fabric awareness,” as a result of which they pay insufficient attention to labels when they’re buying clothes. So says an official of Cotton Inc. as quoted in an article by DNR, a trade paper covering the men’s clothing biz. In all other respects, though, a Cotton Lifestyle Monitor study finds men age 16-19 an exemplary lot. They are more likely than older men to enjoy shopping for clothes, with 42 percent saying they like or love it. (The figure was 28 percent for 20-24-year-olds and 20 percent for those 25 and up.) The 16-19s also spend more on clothes than their elders, despite having less cash to toss around. Asked how much they’d spent on clothes in the previous month, 28 percent said $51-100, 20 percent said $101-200 and 18 percent said more than $200. By comparison, 16 percent of the 20-24s and 13 percent of those 25 and older put themselves in the $200-plus class. The 16-19s also spend the most time in clothing stores–some 91 minutes on an average shopping foray.
mixed blessings: Triumphant Cheapskates, Grounds for Divorce, Etc.
When Slate last month abandoned its effort to turn readers into paying subscribers, the Microsoft-owned Webzine reinforced the penny-pinching proclivities of Internet surfers everywhere. Those of us who’d been too cheap to subscribe could now regard our tightwad behavior as a successful passive resistance–a Gandhian model for the digital age. This can only make life more difficult for other companies that hope to squeeze a Net profit out of online readers. As for Slate itself, one wonders how the new dispensation will affect its prestige. In its year as a subscription magazine, Slate had placed the table of contents in its free area, presumably hoping this would entice people to ante up. But experienced print people know the table of contents is always the best part of a magazine, full of promise that the articles (however excellent) can never entirely fulfill. Thus, nonsubscribers who’ve peered longingly at Slate’s contents listings during the past year have been set up for disappointment now that they can read the whole text. Online ingrates ‘r’ us.
You think you’ve got Y2K problems? Paraphrasing a Reuters report, the Brain Snacks newsletter from Young & Rubicam’s Brand Futures Group notes a novel approach in China to the millennium bug. The ministry that oversees civil aviation has taken “a dramatic step to spur its nation’s airline executives to solve the Y2K problem: it has issued a directive that all of them must take a flight on New Year’s Day.” Happy landings, everyone.
People who wish there were more sex, violence and vulgarity in pop culture must feel sadly neglected. Sure, the entertainment media cater to their tastes, but pollsters always seem more interested in enumerating people who want to see less of those things. As a case in point, an online poll by CNN Interactive recently inquired, “Do you think there is too much sex, violence, vulgarity, etc., in today’s movies?” While 73 percent of participants said there is, a hearty 27 percent said there isn’t.
As divorce lawyers know, some folks don’t share the Shakespearean view that “Love is not love/ Which alters when it alteration finds.” In an ad by Cleveland’s Bill Brokaw Advertising, one such law practice grabs the attention of prospective divorcƒs and divorcƒes with a marital circumstance of that ilk. Another ad in the same batch shows the bride’s ring inscribed with the words “I do” and the groom’s inscribed with a candid “I do everyone.”
Why go to a dealer and kick tires when you can stay home and kick your computer? A study by Forrester Research predicts 470,000 new cars will be bought online in 2003, and nearly 8 million purchases will be influenced by window shopping via the Internet. Even last year, research using the Internet influenced the choices of more than 2 million new-car buyers.