Brands marketing to men in the #MeToo era must be self-aware

The creative process behind Dove Men+Care's social mission, Dear Future Dads, was shared at Advertising Week on Thursday.

L-R: Cameron Farrelly and Sharon MacLeod
L-R: Cameron Farrelly and Sharon MacLeod

NEW YORK: Self-awareness is key for brands marketing to men in the #MeToo era, according to Virtue’s chief creative officer, Cameron Farrelly.

At Advertising Week in New York on Thursday, Farrelly and Unilever global VP Sharon MacLeod discussed their recent collaboration on Dove Men+Care's social mission, Dear Future Dads.

The global campaign, which launched on Father's Day, champions paternity leave. The brand wants to challenge stereotypes about men as caregivers and spark a cultural movement for paid paternity leave.

Farrelly and MacLeod started working on the idea before the #MeToo movement. One year ago, Virtue and Dove Men+Care began researching millennial men.

"What has happened with men is they have been stripped of this toxic masculinity power that once existed," said MacLeod. "This is the context of which we do our work. We have been doing it for a long time before that on Dove Men+Care. It’s an exciting time to be a woman, but for a man it’s pretty tough."

The definition of masculinity is changing and the #MeToo movement is making people acknowledge and talk about that, said Farrelly. Men feel comfortable caring "out loud" and showing emotion, and more people are embracing that – not only millennials, but older generations, too, he said, of the biggest insight that came out of the research.  

"We want to encourage the good guys to show their face and step up and for us to recognize what is changing without looking back," said Farrelly.

Working on a campaign geared at "good guys" made a lot of people at Virtue "self-aware," he explained, which he said was an important part of the creative process.

"Self-awareness is a big key to doing these kinds of things sincerely and authentically and looking at Dove Men+Care as a self-aware brand, otherwise comms could have been so tone-deaf and not gone over well," he said.

Virtue’s team experienced "professional and personal parallels" while working on the Dove Men+Care Dear Future Dads campaign.

"Working on a brand like this at a time like this with a message like this is something bigger than I came to work on," said Farrelly. "It is bigger than advertising and selling soap. It is something that is shaping culture, shaping the next generation, informing change, and calling out bullshit. That is bigger than any brief we could work on."

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