As we were driving along yesterday I noticed the new Maxibon campaign – advertising the ‘Revolutionary Man-Chew’.

This campaign takes ‘maleness’ to new levels – creating new words to enter the lexicon of masculinity – the man-chew, chindominals, or my personal favourite jawceps.


It got me thinking about how the way we speak to men and women has changed in recent years… and perhaps not in the way one would expect.

In the early 90s, campaigns and culture emphasised the ‘sameness’ between the sexes.  Androgyny was on trend.  Girls had short hair, men had long hair, the grunge movement meant that we were dressing to look the same. Ally McBeal had the unisex toilet, and Calvin Klein launched ck one, the unisex fragrance.

20 years later, however, we are again redefining what it means to be a man or a woman.  We are again reinforcing the differences between the sexes – advertising encourages men to be real men.  Some recent campaigns that come to mind…

Old Spice – “The Man your man should smell like”

Coke Mother: The Motherland

MacDonalds: More of a Man with a Quarter-pounder in your hand

and of course…

Maxibon Man-Chew: Turning lickers into biters

Men versus Women is just one area where we see consumers responding  well to brands that emphasise the differences between groups.  These campaigns provide them with clear signposts on what it means to be ‘male’ or ‘female’.  However, looking more broadly we see other successful campaigns which are focussed on emphasising the differences, and creating a sense of what it means to be a part of that group.

It seems to me that many of the successful campaigns of the moment speaks to a broader need for identity.  The uncertainty and instability of recent times have driven a shift in consumer mindset.  Consumers are no longer looking to push the boundaries – instead they are seeking the safety and reassurance of belonging to a known group.  This gives them a sense of who they are and where they fit in a changing world.  Campaigns which emphasise the unique (identifying) traits of a group are successful because they give the consumer a place and a group of people where they belong.  It is important for marketers to decide if this is a trend that they can use to their advantage, creating a way of belonging for their own brands and products.

Lastly, here are some more examples of campaigns I could think of which have used this technique to success.

PC vs. MAC

More and more I see consumers self identifying as either a MAC or a PC user when I speak to them in groups.  This campaign has truly entered the consumer zeitgeist.

MLA: Don’t be Un-Australian…Eat Lamb

For better or for worse, this campaign was right on the mark – pick up on the widening use of the term Un-Australian and making it part of their message.

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