According to Los Angeles ad-man Rob Schwartz, we're in a new age of the advertising icon. We've previously discussed advertising campaigns' use of anthropomorphized characters like Mr. Clean and Mrs. Butterworth, as well as created our own characters for our award-winning campaign for Conceptrol (Love the penis, Kill the sperm).
Schwartz identifies some of the most popular ad icons of right now being Allstate's Mayhem, Dos Equis' World's Most Interesting Man, and the Geico gecko. He states that these campaigns are successful because the characters are "likeable, branded and worthy of repeated views." But at first glance it would seem that all of these particular iconic ad characters are meant to appeal to male consumers, with the possible exception of the gecko.
However, we mentioned a study in a previous post that found brands which assign human characteristics to nonhuman products may appeal more to female consumers than to males. If this is true, which ad icons are intended to send messages to women? Actually, all of them. Since women make 85% of household purchasing decisions, it makes sense that the icon on a package of paper towels is the Brawny man. Same goes for the Old Spice guy in the towel. Women are more likely to buy their guy's deodorant so Old Spice it is.
Men might see the ads with the iconic characters, they might laugh at them and even remember them later on. But chances are, when it comes time to purchase the items those ads represent, it will be a woman deciding what goes in the shopping cart and ultimately in the household.