LONDON: Traditionally male brands such as Unilever’s Axe deodorant and Arcadia’s Topman retail chain have adopted a modern approach to masculinity in their marketing efforts, in contrast to the toxic masculinity that has damaged both men and the world they inhabit.

It begins with the Man Box, “a set of stereotypical attributes that men are supposed to be: tough, stoic, don’t cry, violent when necessary”, Rik Strubel, Global Vice President at Axe/Lynx, told Advertising Week Europe. (For more, read WARC’s in-depth report: Breaking out of the Man Box with Axe and Topman)

Axe research had shown that young men living by tenets of the Man Box were twice as likely to bully and make unwelcome comments to women. They’re also more likely to be unhappy, to be violent, to fail to connect with other people. Strubel admitted that much of Axe’s advertising had reflected this reading of masculinity.

The expectation of brands, he added, is changing in step, as consumers “expect brands to take the edge off that situation. They want brands to support [them], to show the world in a way in which it’s OK for them to screw up.”

Beginning with the Find your Magic campaign, Axe has developed its progressive messaging to explore further nuance in modern masculinity, including through partnerships with key charities.

In the UK, Lynx has picked up on the disturbing statistic that suicide is the single biggest killer of men under the age of 45 in the country - one every two hours - and is working with CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably), a charity dedicated to raising awareness of this issue.

Meanwhile, Topman, the menswear retailer, rode the zeitgeist of ITV’s Love Island, in which Chris Hughes – who was notable for once crying on the show – took part in a funny campaign that marketed a new mineral water brand enhanced with the reality star’s tears. Its name: L’eau de Chris.

It was, of course, a hoax but it caused the press to go into frenzy, until the brand revealed that it had been part of the plan all along with the message: “It’s ludicrous to bottle up your feelings.” By selling limited edition bottles (that did actually contain tears), however, the campaign not only delivered impressive social reach but also helped to raise funds for CALM’s support helpline.

Sourced from WARC