Lynx and the male image
Tribes of girls running semi-naked down beaches. Scantily clad models fall from heaven to search out the owner of the ultimate masculine fragrance. ‘The Lynx Effect’ campaigns ran for almost twenty years.
Then, in 2016 Unilever began to ditch the formula, instead inviting men to find their ‘Magic’. ‘Magic’ meant male idiosyncrasies, but most notably questioning whether or not being in touch with their emotions was one of them.
As part of the ongoing campaign TMW, with director David Stoddart (signed to Dark Materials Production Company) talked to men of all shapes sizes and successes, including musician Tom Odell, super heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua, rugby player Keegan Hirst, and Jamie Raines a transgender blogger. They were asked about their deepest feelings and relationships. What they found out was this: men cry. Men express their feelings. Guys talk about the things that bother them. And not just obvious metrosexuals. Muscle bound, tattoo-strewn bearded men. Men who box, men who ride fast bikes. Men have and express their emotions. While this might not seem like a grand revelation on an individual level, our society still holds fast on to male stereotypes. Especially when it comes to marketing fragrances.
This is about breaking stereotypes that some find it difficult to live up to, and why should they? The rule book on what makes a man is quickly changing, so too should unhelpful stereotypes that prevent men from moving away from a toxic masculinity of which, emotional repression is one element.
But a quieter conversation is also going on. Lynx has a section on its website called ‘It’s okay for guys…’ to try and help guys accept who they are. Partners on its website include Promundo, an organisation set up to promote gender equality by engaging men and boys. Ditch the Label, the leading international anti-bullying charity. The Representation Project, a charity set up to overcome gender stereotypes. And the Campaign Against Living Miserably , a campaign that addresses male suicide.
But back to the films. Their bravery comes in their simplicity. Famous and ordinary men sitting and talking to the camera about how they feel. The environments are typically masculine (car parks, boxing rings, etc.) and the colour black and white.
‘No talking heads’ is what we hear from broadcasters and brands alike over many years. But people forget that talking heads is synonymous with having an intimate chat with someone. It enables you to really take in what is being said, to trust those words and understand the emotions behind them. Sure, if the subject is dull or conversely has the possibility to convey adrenaline-filled excitement, then cuts are always a must. But to touch that real human moment, to be able to express what an interviewee feels inside needs time and shots that rest.
David Stodart has captured all the fun, fury and sadness that goes on inside a man. The little voices inside our heads, the things we never say. People think interviewing is easy. In actuality there is a real art to get people to feel comfortable enough to open up and express themselves. But when they do, films like these are made. And more importantly, a greater empathy and understanding is reached by those that watch them.