Burnett Separates 'Metros' From 'Retros'

CANNES, FRANCE Leo Burnett today unveiled the results of a proprietary global study of men’s attitudes and values at the Cannes International Advertising Festival in a seminar at the Palais de Festivals titled “Metros vs. Retros: Are Marketers Missing Real Men?”

The results of the study, which included interviews with more than 2000 men in 13 countries, found that men are more complex than simple portrayals in the media would lead one to believe.

The results were presented by Burnett Tom Bernardin, chairman and ceo, Mark Tutssel, deputy chief creative officer, and Linda Kovarik, global planning director of beauty care accounts and director of planning for Japan.

“While the world has been focused on women, men have been undergoing some significant changes of their own,” said Bernardin. “The last thing we want is to look back in 10 years and find that we have unwittingly created the same cliches that female advertising is riddled with.”

Men, the study found, are just as disillusioned as women with their portrayal in advertising. Seventy-four percent of those surveyed said they feel images of men in ads are out of touch with reality.

“We were surprised how much the men we interviewed wanted to talk,” said Kovarik. “Some even cried in the session.”

The study found that globally men are experiencing an identity crisis and feeling unsure of what is expected of them in society today. Half of those surveyed said they felt their role was unclear.

The agency urged the audience to look beyond the debate of “Metros vs. Retros,” two groups characterized on one end by enlightened men unafraid to embrace their feminine sides, to the more traditional, stereotypical male behavior that applies to about 40 percent of men. Two other categories of men, the study found, are power seekers, who define themselves by a successful career, and patriarchs, who put family first.

The agency shared perspectives from study participants. One man from Germany said, “I like to apply facial masks, to take care of my body and work out so I can look good on the beach.” Another from India said, “My father could never make a cup of tea, but I can.”

Advertising agencies are tapping into the cultural changes in their commercials, said Burnett, which screened several ads that highlighted the changing attitudes and current conflict men are feeling. Spots included a Bud Light Institute ad showing how men have distracted women through the ages with inventions such as the soap opera and online shopping so they can spend time drinking beer with their friends, and a Levi’s commercial that asks, “Life getting too complicated?” The ad portrays the story of a stop-motion animated male doll so overwhelmed by his metrosexual primping (such as waxing his chest), he runs to put on his 501s for relief.

“Are marketers missing real men?” asked Bernardin. “The answer for the most part is we’re doing okay for now.”

Bernardin asked audience members to participate in the agency’s evaluation of male attitudes by taking a survey on www.leoburnett.com/manstudy, where results of the study can be found. The study will be updated with those findings during Advertising Week in New York in September, he said.