Met-Set Sessions: Advertising and the Male Mind

Think of yourself as an ambitious, anxious, yoga-loving, cocktail-drinking urbanite? Then you’re not alone. You’re officially a member of the “Met-Set”, a term coined by Shortlist Media to describe the believers, doers and influencers in today’s world.

I headed to Shortlist’s “The Met-Set Sessions” to hear more about this important audience, listening to a whole range of speakers on four central themes: happiness, relationships, politics, and fun.

Shortlist editorial director Phil Hilton initiated the session by offering up an interesting thought starter with the image of a 2007 front cover of now-defunct lads mag Nuts. Cue a shocked silence from the audience as we took in the scantily clad cover girls, the tacky headlines and the blatant objectification of women that identified the whole magazine. The shock was an intentional tactic by Phil, former editor of said magazine, to highlight the stark contrast between the media ten years ago, and the media today. It shone an interesting light on the way society has evolved in the past ten years, and thus how we react and interact with media and the commercial world.

Hilton’s theme led nicely onto the next speaker, Joe Mackertich, the editor of Shortlist magazine, who was discussing the ‘’Happiness’’ section. He opened up a fervent discussion on the evolution of the modern man in the face of an ever-changing media. He also examined the blokey past where everyone listened to Kasabian, drank pints, looked at lads’ mags and nobody talked about their feelings, and how brands responded to this in their communications.

What has happened, in this evolution, is that we are now living in the era of the ‘’Beta-Male’’. It is an era of good guys. For every Donald Trump there is a Justin Trudeau, who earnestly wants to open his country to all immigrants. For every Harvey Weinstein there is a Ryan Gosling, championing women’s rights. For every louty Kasabian rock group there is a gentle Frank Ocean, abstaining from drink and drugs and open about his sexuality. For every Ashley Cole there is a Juan Mata, donating 1% of his salary to charity. Mental health has become a topic at the very forefront of people’s minds, with typical alpha male figures like The Rock, Wentworth Miller and David Beckham opening up about their struggles with mental health, and Colin Farrell confessing to the difficulties he faced in rehab for alcohol, drug addiction and depression.

What has evolved is that people don’t thirst for money nowadays, they thirst for happiness. In turn, the brands they engage with must, on the whole, speak to them on an emotional level (subliminally or consciously). Take, for example, the Heineken ad that came out earlier this year, encouraging two people on completely opposite ends of the political spectrum to sit down and chat over a Heineken. A beer brand encouraging people to sit down and talk about their thoughts and feelings? We have certainly come a long way since the ‘’beer cupboard’’ Heineken days, where we were shown a 30-second clip of a woman introducing her friends to her new walk-in wardrobe, and in turn a man introduces his delighted friends to a walk-in beer wardrobe. Or Lynx, FINALLY doing away with the ‘’wear lynx and women will follow you like Moses across the Red Sea’’ theme and coming out with the ‘’Find Your Magic’’ advert, telling its consumer’s to ignore the rules, be yourself, be the best you can be, and you won’t need anything else to attract women.

It is this revolution in the attitude brands have to their audience that is the essence of Joe’s discourse, that the modern brand should now reflect the modern man, and woman, and not speak to them like they are mindless idiots whose goal in life is to have a walk-in beer cupboard. We are open about our politics, our mental health, our sexuality, our family, and we expect brands to be open to us in return. Gone are the days of the lads’ mag and the stigma surrounding men discussing their feelings, and we can now all breathe a sigh of relief.

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Martha Harper

Martha is a digital planner with a love of pizza, dogs

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