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Man-size me

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If I was in the product development team of a tissue manufacturer that was looking to target the male population with a new gender-specific product, I’d redesign the whole concept of what a tissue is. They would be durable, rough and scratchy tissues made for real men. Mine would be the sort of tissues that an alpha male like Russell Crowe would proudly blow his nose with. In my mind, they would sell millions.

However, since 1941 Kleenex have actually understood what it is that hits to the core of being a man who buys tissues. The one thing that is a symbol of unadorned manliness – huge, enormous, large, big and gargantuan-sized tissues that come in massive boxes.

Cruel, heartless, uncaring people might say that we men need bigger tissues to make sure any symptoms of the alleged man-flu condition are adequately curtailed – or that they are needed merely to ensure that our masculinity will not be affected by using the standard soft and girly product.

Maybe it’s just that men have a candour and clarity about what our needs are and marketers are playing on the fundamental idea that we require more value for our dollar.

It is interesting that when some brands are being criticised by customers for reducing the size of their products, other brands have recently introduced implicit male offers by upsizing their products.

Nivea deodorant and energy drink maker V have both recently upsized their products that are targeted at male consumers.

nivea, deodorant

V, energy drink

Just by looking at the new versions you know right away what is different about these products – they’re huge and in no way feminine.

As a male, I’m grateful for the distinction – as well as the free 30 percent extra product I’m getting with my now man-sized Nivea. I like that I am so wired on caffeine and guarana, thanks to V doubling the size of their drink, that I can now stay awake for two nights straight.

However, the positioning of these gendered-targeted versions of standard consumer products lacks some subtlety. At least when Coca-Cola aimed to reach men who, while not wanting it announced to the world, cared about their weight, looks and health, the soft drink giant developed the Diet Coke alternative, Coke Zero. Ditto Pepsi with Pepsi Max.

With a market for manly consumer goods and the fact that product upsizing can reposition any product to reinforce masculinity, I’m now looking forward to man-sized mojitos, man-sized salads, man-sized double soy chai lattes, man-sized yogurt and man-sized cupcakes.

Surely though, man-sized quiche would be a step too far? No real man could get away with eating it, no matter how large you made it.

Now there’s a real marketing challenge.

Anthony Dever is the Interactive Strategist at the Brisbane and Sydney-based advertising agency BCM Partnership. He was also the founder of the satirical TV Fugly Awards and is a regular commentator on ABC Radio.

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