Real men may not eat quiche, but will they eat yogurt?
Dannon is betting they will. In 30-second commercials running this month, a group of brawny construction workers dig into Dannon's Fruit on the Bottom yogurt with all the gusto one might think they reserved for a T-bone steak.
The campaign is a departure for a company that only a decade ago promised women who ate its yogurt "a Dannon body."
While 61 percent of Dannon's customers are women, "we wanted to broaden our appeal from a gender-specific message to one that says anyone can eat yogurt," said Eric Leventhal, president for marketing at the Dannon Company in Tarrytown, N.Y., a unit of Groupe Danone of France. "Yogurt is not just a woman thing."
The construction workers tap their feet and stir their yogurt to the tune of "Groove Me" by King Floyd, a New Orleans soul singer.
"Where you would normally expect a yogurt commercial to feature healthy, active women, it's nice to show healthy, active guys instead," said Ann Hayden, the executive creative director at the New York office of Young & Rubicam Advertising, part of the Young & Rubicam unit of the WPP Group, which created the spots for Dannon.
Not coincidentally, marketing and health specialists say, men are becoming more concerned with their appearance.
Men's skin care, for instance, has been one of the fastest-growing grooming categories, increasing an average of 10 percent a year since 1995, according to Kline & Company, a market research firm in Little Falls, N.J., that tracks the beauty industry.
Last year, men spent $105 million on products like facial scrubs, moisturizers and after-shave. While that is still a pittance compared with the $10 billion in retail sales of all skin care products last year, beauty companies smell opportunity.
Since the mid-1990's, companies like Clinique and Aramis, both owned by Estée Lauder, have introduced male-only skin care and fragrance lines, while L'Oréal and Clairol have introduced hair color for men.
Many of the initial male grooming products were aimed at a small group of men who enjoyed browsing Bloomingdale's on Saturday afternoons, wearing Kenneth Cole merino wool sweaters and sitting for the occasional manicure. Now they are going mainstream.
Nivea, a German skin care company, recently polled 2,000 American men, ages 18 to 35, and turned up what it considered to be a surprising result. "Most said that to succeed in life, they needed to be well groomed," said Wolfgang König, product manager for Nivea for Men. "We always heard that from women, but we never expected to hear it from men."
Those same men said they were uncomfortable buying grooming products in department stores, Mr. König added, but 40 percent said they would readily buy them in drugstores.
The research led Nivea to introduce its line of moisturizers and facial scrubs in America in February, although it has sold similar products in Europe for 15 years.
"The department store brands appealed to a small niche of men who tended to be more affluent and better educated, but for the everyday guy, skin care still wasn't accepted," said Terri Davis, a vice president at Foote, Cone & Belding in New York, part of the FCB Group unit of the Interpublic Group of Companies, which created a campaign for Nivea. "We wanted to appear approachable to the everyday guy - the guy you play basketball with."
The commercials show men around the world resorting to outlandish measures to soothe their faces after shaving. One dunks his face in a cereal bowl; another sticks his head in the freezer.
The print campaign is more straightforward: a man holds a razor in one hand with the word "war" scrawled across the page; in the other hand is Nivea for Men Shave Balm beside the word "peace." Another print ad for facial scrubs says, "Gritty so your face won't be."
Mr. König said the transformation over the last decade in men's attitudes toward their appearance was startling. In a poll Nivea conducted 10 years ago, men said they were ambivalent about grooming, he said.
Men still draw the line at some forms of primping.
Hard Candy, a Beverly Hills maker of makeup and nail lacquer in colors like Groove (iridescent purple) and Blast (light metallic pink), has discontinued Candy Man, a line of nail polish for men.
"The average guy didn't want to paint his nails," said Sarina Godin, a spokeswoman for Hard Candy, a unit of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton of France.
Mr. Leventhal of Dannon said his intention was not so much to appeal to men's vanity, but to urge both sexes to think about yogurt in a different way. He said he hoped the image of construction workers eating yogurt would shock people into rethinking the stereotype of a typical Dannon customer as a calorie-obsessed health nut.
"The main thing," he said, "is it's not all about women."
Suzanne Kapner, The New York Times. August 31, 2001
Copyright © 2001 The New York Times Company. All rights reserved.