If you’ve watched my Manly Ads video compilations over the past few years, you’ve surely noticed a few troubling trends in male targeted advertising. In the past few years far too many ads have been pushing, even threatening men to act in traditionally masculine ways. “Act tough!” they yell at us; “be the strong silent type, take charge, be in control, be outdoorsy, better yet… act like a James Bond clone.” Then they tell us to “man up” and ridicule or bully us when we don’t conform.
But now, according to the stock image website iStock, advertisers may finally be changing their approach in the new year. According to their recently released infographic, Top Visual Design Trends For 2014, instead of being shamed and harangued into submission, we may soon be watching ads that promote a more welcoming and gentle form of masculinity. Specifically, images of men being hands on, caring and fatherly with their kids. If you watched last year’s compilation, Manly Ads 2013, then you probably remember the few ads that took this approach last year. I’m happy to hear that it’s likely to become an ongoing trend (for the upcoming year at least… but hopefully much, much longer).
In all honesty, the cynic in me wants to question these predictions. To view this as nothing more than a marketing ploy to attract visitors to iStock. But there is also a bright spot of hope within me that believes these trends will continue to make their way into more ads (and other forms of media), eventually expanding into more consistently positive depictions of masculinity.
Of course, advertisers aren’t doing these things for altruistic reasons (if they do them at all), but whatever. We may all hate advertising, but like it or not ads are everywhere and they do work. People, no matter how much they claim they don’t, pay attention to advertising… so it’s high time that this ubiquitous form of media stops pushing men and women into restrictive and often harmful roles. All I know is; if iStock is right, Manly Ads 2014 may end up looking very different than it has in the past and I for one will welcome the change.
There are a more potential design trends listed in the iStock infographic than the two I mentioned here… like more beards and witches. You can see the full image below: