The Man of Today: who exactly is he?
Lucy Mapstone, MSN UK correspondent 23 hrs ago
Who is the Man of Today?
It’s a question many of us are faced with as we’re bombarded with images and ideals of different types of men on a daily basis. Our present culture allows us to ingest so much information at such a speed, it’s a challenge to keep up and form a real idea about who to be. We have our iconic Hollywood stars and inspirational musicians. We see strong and skilful sportsmen, and politicians – the good and the bad. There are those who fight wars, and those who do anything to try to stop war from happening. We see academics and journalists, artists and innovators. Men who are heroes, and fathers, lovers and brothers. But how does one define the ultimate modern man? Is it even possible to put it in such distinct terms?
There are innumerable traits that make a man an individual, but Hugo Boss has deftly captured who they think symbolises the Man of Today. He is – to put it in the simplest terms – confident and strong, yet passionate, driven and refined. He has power, but not so much as to make him macho or overbearing. He is motivated and aware of his surroundings, successful and full of grit. This is exactly the message the label has encapsulated in their new advertising campaign featuring the brand’s ambassador, Gerard Butler.
In the glossy yet modest commercial for its signature fragrance for men Boss Bottled, the Hollywood star wears a tailored Boss suit, while listing the qualities that make him the Man of Today.
“You can see it in my stride,” he declares. “If good conduct makes a man, it makes me the Man of Today… Diligence and dedication is what I live from day to day.
“Be true to yourself, I say: it makes me a man of success. Makes me a Man of Today.”
The experts at Boss believe that Butler embodies the spirit of this new campaign, and they have a point: the 44-year-old Scottish actor is certainly successful, relatable and clearly has a personable nature and positive attitude to life. Not to mention his rugged good looks and gravelly voice, but those alone do not a man make.
When speaking to Butler, you become aware that he is not only honoured to be the face of one of the world’s leading male fragrances, but that he understands his duty and that he feels he is this inspiring, manly man at the front of the campaign.
“The Hugo Boss campaign is really a great guideline in terms of who the Man of Today is,” he says.
“It feels like it instils traditional values and also modern values of what a man is. We have to be reminded of these: of nobility, of courage, of a job well done, but then there are the more modern ones, being more flexible and more relaxed, more in touch with your emotions. I thought it was really cool.
“The commercial – it touches you, especially as a man.”
Not only does he embody precisely the kind of man Boss is targeting, he is completely humbled by the experience.
“There are many other actors and celebrities they could have asked, so to think they have such a specific campaign idea – and this modern man is a pretty cool guy, I like him! – that I exemplify him, I thought they were nuts,” he admits.
Perhaps one of the main traits of this modern man is sheer humility too: if so, Butler has it in excess.
The actor isn’t the only influential person linked to the campaign. GQ editor Dylan Jones, fragrance expert Will Andrews and social psychology expert Professor Brendan Gough have also had roles in helping the brand shape what the image of the Man of Today should be.
As the chief of one of the world’s leading male magazines, Jones is undoubtedly well-equipped to speak about all things modern man. He believes wholeheartedly in the story they’re selling and also in Butler as a representative of the brand.
“I think the interesting thing about Gerard as an ambassador is that he’s unapologetically a real man,” he explains.
“Too often brand ambassadors tend to be fleetingly cool or too young. He’s a real guy, smart, self-deprecating and also espouses the message of Hugo Boss.”
How does he think the idea of the modern man has changed over the years that he has been at the helm of GQ?
“The market research (on both the magazine and for Boss) shows that men seem to be in a much happier place than they’ve been in for a while,” he adds.
“They’re far more confident, happier in their relationship between work and leisure, aspirations and also in terms of body image.”
He goes into more detail: “It’s more than just talking about their emotions; they felt slightly emasculated by feminism, then they tried to overcompensate and went the other direction and got a bit too macho, and now – particularly younger men – they are far happier because they don’t feel like they have to pretend.
“They don’t have to be overly aggressive or emotional. They can be themselves and you can see that in their consumer choices.”
According to Boss, the Man of Today is perfect as a wearer of Boss Bottled, their best-selling scent that has adorned the bodies of urbane men for 16 years. While little has changed about the ‘unmistakably masculine’ fragrance over the decade and a half since its inception, the notion of what makes someone a real man today has changed.
Will Andrews, a member of the P&G Fragrance Creation Team, has shed light on what it is about Boss Bottled that makes it masculine, yet timeless and appropriate for this changing contemporary man.
“This fragrance has an interesting feature in that it has those classic masculine components – the aromatic woods and spices – but then it has these softening elements,” he explains.
“The vanilla is absolutely key. It’s that perfect balance between the two olfactive elements – the masculine and the feminine – that make it successful.
“Boss Bottled is still as relevant now as it was when it was created, as men fundamentally still have that balance of both worlds. The softer side and the caring side, and the focused, leader-type personality.”
For Brendan Gough, a Professor of Social Psychology with an interest in the genders, the Man of Today is rooted in the influence of feminist factors in popular culture.
“Recently, today’s ideal of a man comes from places like feminism and such movements and that filters down into the inter-personal level, where expectations around gender have changed.”
He adds: “Women have been driving that to some extent and men have responded. These days, men are not so much responding than initiating things more themselves. We’re in a more interesting, sophisticated situation for men: they’ve moved from being passive and responsive to being a bit more proactive.”
The Man of Today is a mixture of the old, the new, the future, the current, and a bit of the feminine too, but he is by no means less of a man than he was before. In fact, by shedding the ‘macho man’ persona of old, along with those traditional gender stereotypes, today’s man is the best he could possibly be.
He’s sophisticated and strong, but in touch with his emotions. He’s full of grit and is keen to be successful, but also is full of compassion.
He’s real, aspirational and inspirational to other men around him. He accepts his responsibility in all areas of his life, from his career to his family, and executes everything he does with diligence and pride.
He’s motivated to be an upstanding member of society, while looking great in his well-cut suit.
And he’ll be that Man of Today wearing the fragrance that was designed for him at his best; Boss Bottled.