Most of us ad folk know that Southern Comfort have taken centre stage with “Whatever’s comfortable”, their ad centered around a gent walking up a beach with a pot belly in an inappropriate pair of budgie smugglers. It’s a great piece of creativity but recent events suggest there is perhaps a bigger social phenomenon going on.
Stowford Press’ commercial smorgasbord of images of men in shorts, overweight, sitting on tractors or champions of the last bastion of maleness, the BBQ, have shown that it’s cool to be an ordinary bloke again. And only last week Halifax singled out the talents of an ordinary community football coach excelling at dealing with the pains of touchline parents. Are these spawned look alikes or are our ad planners on to something? What’ s happening?
It has not been cool to be an overweight 40 something bloke for sometime. Up against geeky, youthful techno evangelists on fixie bikes, your average ageing gent has fallen by the way side. Those that have fought back have only become laughed at as MAMILs (middle aged men in lycra etc…). They have also struggled in attracting the sights of your average media planner. Compared to that bastion of FMCG marketing the housewife (if indeed they do exist) they don’t seem to be holders of the household budget and, if you do want to target a male buyer, current thinking suggests you really want to target your brand at the people with money – bankers, admen, professionals and your average Apprentice candidate.
But you know what? It is cool again to be a mid market trodden down male. This tribe has been ignored for many years – out of favour like a pint of Long Life at a nineties rave. But most mid to late 40 something men have something that their more younger brethren might not have in these days of austerity – money and experience. They are also the perfect riposte to austerity Britain in that it’s OK to be who you are and, as Southern Comfort points out, “comfortable” in their skins. They don’t care and they do what they want. Seasick Steve is their tribal head. And they are spending money on Music festivals, BBQs, bikes and, most likely, sheds.
As an overweight 40 something bloke myself I get it and know the planners are on to something. But don’t tell them I work in advertising. That will be the death knell of this tribe before it’s even got out of the box.
Jonnie Galvin-Wright is Managing Director of Stuff Advertising and Marketing Sector Head at Bristol Media.