When the retail behemoth John Lewis revealed the new face of its mensware range earlier this year it was to media cries of “gingery tramp” and the slightly kinder “hobo chic.” The explanation for this was simple. They had veered away from the usual androgynous beauty with hairless torso, creamy pre-pubescent skin and cut glass cheek bones in favour of Johnny Harrington a former kitchen fitter from Milton Keynes. With his wild titian locks and rugged appearance he looks more biblical than model but John Lewis say Johnny appeals to its hard-working ordinary customer. His laid back cavalier chic is the kind of attainable that might convince your man to abandon his dog chewed trainers and try on a pair of calfskin loafers. His impressive facial hair hints at similarly impressive testosterone levels – here is a man not to shy away in the face of a salmon pink chino so why should you? So whilst the jury is out on Johnny, John Lewis’s tactic of placing the average guy at the center of its marketing to men is becoming increasingly common.
L’Oreal were one of the first to ditch pretty boy Matthew Fox in favour of the more grizzly Hugh Laurie in an effort to attract the man who fears his masculinity may be threatened by the presence of an anti-age eye gel in his bathroom cabinet. And this year the trend continues with Unilever using the Super Bowl, fertile territory to reach hordes of males, to launch its new Dove men + Care real man campaign. The Dove brand already known for its Real Beauty campaign which featured posters of ordinary women in their underwear is now doing the same for ordinary guys. According to Matt Close, marketing director for home and personal care at Unilever UK, three-quarters of men find it difficult to identify with the men they see in advertising and feel stereotyped and misrepresented with only 3 per cent strongly agreeing that they are realistically portrayed. Cue a bevvy of white van men posing salaciously on billboards near you? Probably not but expect to see someone a bit more like your husband, boyfriend or brother flogging moisturiser in the future.
And if all this championing of the average guy wasn’t enough internet hosting site Go Daddy took it to the logical extreme with the very antithesis of the model man, the guy you never thought would grace your TV screens….the ugly guy. Go Daddy caused an online storm earlier this year with its use of the bespectacled Jesse Heiman in its now famous Super Bowl ad who with his Afro and unhealthy BMI is hardly your usual poster boy. Jesse was seen sharing a bit too much saliva with blonde beauty Bar Refaeli and overnight has become a cult hero for thousands of guys around the globe. The former film extra known for his “ugly looks” now has the title of World’s Greatest extra and a rapidly growing twitter following.
However, despite this proliferation of ordinary guys in marketing to men, the shift has actually been a relatively slow one. Pop culture has been embracing the everyman for years with the likes of comedian James Corden championing the average man and Ed Sheeran proving that it is ok to be ginger and proud (if you can sing so well even Taylor Swift wants a piece of you). And it seems that now brands are beginning to mirror this trend.
No longer does the brand poster boy have to be beautiful to flog us stuff, today’s male consumer it seems likes to think brand ‘faces’ could be one of their mates down the pub or even better just like them! It’s official the everyman is no longer just on the rise, he has risen…
By Daisy Sheppard