Old Spice’s Isaiah Mustafa has gained fame and made viewers laugh for his portrayal in the brand’s somewhat goofy “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like Campaign.” Axe has its Theaxeeffect.com website where men are invited to visit such sites as the “Women’s Attention Deficit Disorder research center at AXE.” Miller Lite has launched The Miller Lite Registry – a Website supplementing Miller’s TV ad where a groom registers for beer when his fiancé isn’t looking.
These examples showcase a growing trend of brands positioning themselves toward a certain type of young, single male. There are a couple of common themes or tactics used across this trend, which Slate’s Jessica Grose might call omega male brands (See: “Omega Males and the Women Who Hate Them,” March 18, 2010). First, humor, often colorful and demographic specific, is central within the message. Second, women are used in the appeal (e.g., using the product will help attract women, or women are key to the punch line).
In this context, these tactics can be considered risky because the messages being communicated may ultimately alienate other people in the market. For example, perhaps male members that are more conservative or slightly older may be offended by the colorful humor. Maybe some female fiancés take their registries seriously and don’t like the implication that their soon-to-be grooms’ have a blasé attitude toward gift registry.
Maybe not. How does a brand marketer find the right balance? Old Spice seems to have struck the right tone given what we know of the popularity of Isaiah Mustafa. But last fall, Burger King and Pepsi seemingly missed the mark - with both receiving public criticism and Pepsi offering an apology. Begging the question, what might the short- and long-term consequences of “omega male branding” be?
The trend of omega male marketing and brands is worth examining because it can be related to the “big-picture” choices brand marketers make every day. We understand that we can’t be everything to everybody and be successful. However, does that mean we are willing to risk offending those that fall outside of our target market? We welcome your thoughts.