Gender is a hot topic in our industry at the moment, and rightly so. Our industry spends billions annually shaping perceptions and we have a responsibility to use this power in a positive manner.

Whilst we have seen a growing focus on progressive female representations, there is a new trend in forward-thinking brands turning their attention to masculinity, as they try to keep pace with a societal shift away from the suit-wearing, 6-pack sporting, beer-drinking babe magnets we see all too often.

With 25% of senior management positions now held by women (top 36 economies), how can we get more women in the boardroom if men don’t feel they can or should be left “holding the baby”, as it were?  Surely the secret to this evolution is by helping men to find their new ‘inner male.’

Check. Mate.

Reassuringly, a selection of brands are getting ahead of the masculinity-redefining curve and in so doing, are aligning themselves with the progressive views of Millenials, the next generation of big spenders. Smart move.

Guinness have committed to a constant evolution, with their increasingly nuanced campaigns promoting masculinity as caring, expressive and inclusive.

Lynx revealed a more progressive stance when they launched their much lauded “Find your magic” last year, which featured a man in his element, and in heels (as well as diverse representations of sexuality, disability, race and class).

I was surprised to see even Twinings adding their tuppence, with a paid-for piece of content in which Dad (cup of tea in hand, obviously) notices that his son wants to play as a princess (the father then joins in with the son, supporting the message). Clearly, these brands are taking advantage of the advertising norm back-drop and are choosing to gain cut-though by daring to be different. And this will hold them in increasingly good stead with the advent of the new generations – Millenials and Gen Z.

Research already shows us that those born after 1980 look to brands to mirror their views and beliefs and where there is a disconnect, they disconnect.

But not everyone seems to have got the 21st century man memo. Blue chip brands in fragrance, retail, male grooming, beer… the list of those who are lagging behind the curve puts the number of enlightened brands into perspective – There’s still some way to go. For those who can’t get their heads into the present day and revel in a healthy, realistic, progressive depiction of masculinity, beware – They will feel societal forces hit their brand where it hurts, in the wallet.

If you’ve got a view on gender and sexuality in advertising, we’d love to hear from you and there’s more to come on the subject in the coming weeks – We’re not quite done yet.