President, North America, Cohn & Wolfe
Male bashing. It feels good momentarily, but has fallen out of favor, at least in marketing. In healthcare, we don't bash men, we ignore them. Same net effect: disengagement.
You know: portraying men as bumbly fools who can't take care of anything around the house. This guy can't change a diaper, cook, or make it around the block. These are not theoretical scenarios, but actual portrayals of men in brand marketing.
When it comes to healthcare, we tend to forget about men and focus on female caregivers, even with “male” diseases.
No more—pop culture has swung to the right, by depicting men the right way. We've seen a cultural shift influencing marketing trends. Men do buy cleaning supplies, take care of babies, and prepare kids for the Olympics.
Marketing no longer trashes men, it celebrates them—time for healthcare to do the same. We assume that men don't take care of themselves, ignore symptoms and fall off regimens. If not for women, they'd be helpless in health. When it comes to care giving, they retreat.
The fact is that one third of caregivers for a disabled, chronically ill, or elderly family member are male (US National Alliance for Caregiving 2012).
More than ever, men are controlling their healthcare, taking an active role in managing their family's wellness. They're joining properties like Weight Watchers, using Nike pedometers, and learning about conditions online. In fact, 40% of WebMD visitors are male (QuantCast).
They're researching and recommending options like their female counterparts, especially among younger generations. Over one third of men have used the internet to diagnose symptoms, and half of them follow up with a physician (Pew Health 2013).
The more a brand perpetuates stereotypes of disengaged men, the more men won't relate. By celebrating men's role, we will encourage more to do the same. We need to grant permission for them to get involved and allow them to show they care.
Men should be as engaged as women when it comes to family health—it's our job to showcase and encourage them. Start by giving them equal billing and showing them taking care of themselves and their families. Let's inspire them!
Give men tools created for their needs and don't assume that the wife does the heavy lifting. Give them information in their voice, customized for their needs. Let's motivate them!
Brands that embrace men will advance their relevancy, especially in healthcare where we lag behind the consumer market. Men see themselves properly in other categories, and it's time they see themselves in the healthcare industry. Your brand will grow in engagements, with sharing and loyalty to follow.
The women will like it too.