I got a T-shirt in the post this week. This is not unusual. Normally they are oversized and in some garish primary colour with a logo so large and thickly applied to make it only useful in stopping bullets.
This one was slightly different. It was a sort of tawny beige with the words "Real men don't shave". I know something about this having not so long ago gone through a whole non-shaving period.
The t-shirt was connected to a US ad campaign that has something to do with the death of metrosexual man, which it seems to me has been greatly exaggerated.
No there has not been a collapse in moisturizer sales or anything as drastic as that, but a possible shift in attitude.
You can tell as earlier in the week The Times ran a pieces "Metrosexual, RIP?", which summed up modern man's dilemma quite well as it posited that while the name may change a man's dilemma remains the same: "what is the precise ratio between machismo and moisturiser that will get me laid?"
With The Times article and the T-shirt, that's once as rumour and twice as fact.
The Times piece was sparked by the recent closure in the US of Condé Nast's Cargo magazine, which was interpreted here and there as more evidence that metrosexual man had had his day, taken his styling products and gone back to basics.
Gawker for instance has this to say: "Let it be said that we’re never happy to see a magazine die. But if this signifies the larger, official and irreversible death of the metrosexual, well, it’s a noble sacrifice."
I'd been thinking about this and couldn't really agree less. Men are more than ever buying cart loads of product. The closure of Cargo was simply time being called on a bad idea: a shopping magazine for men? Can you see any sense in that as an idea? No me neither.
Clearly neither could many men. Ziff Davis Media closed its men's tech-shopping magazine, Sync, last November; Fairchild folded the men's shopping title Vitals in September.
Men's shopping mags going belly up aside, do a little digging and you'll find that all the things that apparently "made" metrosexual man still seem to be there in the market writ large.
After a quick look around and I found reports ranging from a booming shaving products market (it used to be easy: foam, now its foam, gel, oil et cet), which grew 24% between 2000 and 2004 and was worth about £500m last year, to the heavy discounting and the rise of 'metrosexual' man are driving the fragrance sector.
"The rise of 'metrosexual' man has pushed grooming up the agenda for young males, who have been targeted by manufacturers accordingly."
While teenagers experiment with hairstyling it’s the 25- to 34-year-old market that is the key audience for manufacturers partly because these men want to look good at work.
Women on average might worry about her body every 12 minutes, but men aren't far behind. Another recent study conducted by Ogilvy & Mather also saw no stopping metrosexual man, those urban straight men who are conscious of their physical appearance.
Metrosexual man is far from dead, but it's the phrase itself that people have twigged is naff. It was meant to suggest "just gay enough", but it was really always too gay to be straight, which is partly why we have seen the emergence of new (but the same) marketing buzz words to replace it such as Ubersexual and Heteropolitans.
The Ubersexual seems simply to be a reworking of the classic sex symbol (George Clooney and Brad Pitt are Ubers) while the Heteropolitans (Jamie Oliver, Andrew Flintoff and Vernon Kaye) seem to be lads...but didn't they morph into metros? It's all kind of circular and confusing.
There was the Retrosexual as well. Although I'm not sure what ever happened to him...other than his move to all things retro.
All of these new catchall phrases are essentially naff as well. Having never gone around describing myself as a metrosexual (it always sounded like a term of mild abuse), I can't really imagine ever wanting to attach any other marketing buzz word to the labels that I am already wearing.
I might once have tried a seaweed green face mask (it was a long time ago) and have been known to, you know, moisturize, on occasion, but firmly resist Metro, Uber (unlikely) or Heteropolitan tag.
Although, that said, I'm kind of likely to wear the T-shirt, the shaving thing aside.
Thursday, April 13, 2006
It's an advertising, marketing, media and PR work thing from the editor of Brand Republic.
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