Sensitive Side: Use Emotions to Appeal to Men in the Audience

By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer

Video thumbnail of little kid calling for dad in Dove Men commercialCute puppies, zany cats and sensational sunsets are universally appealing on social media because they touch viewers’ emotions. Posting something that’s factual (on Twitter, for example) may be interesting, but include a photo (on Facebook), or a video clip (on YouTube), and you’re more likely to make a more memorable—and shareable—impact with the audience.  

Emotions are a key component to what gives social media traction and engagement. But for even greater effectiveness, there’s another important ingredient. The psychology of social success suggests that emotional engagement follows—not you or your product/service—but something that the reader is already passionate about…something that matters most to your consumer. [Ref: SocialMediaToday]

Marketers can find inspiration in a recent campaign by Dove, the Unilever personal care brand. Granted, the beauty bar and soap product business is not healthcare. What’s more, it may be challenging to find customers who are passionate about moisturizers…least of all the men in the audience.

In spite of those obstacles, we’d like to point to an emotion-touching marketing example that pulls it all together in a real world, memorable and shareable way. Dove began with a slice of audience research.

It turns out, according to Unilever/Dove Men+Care, that: “The way dads see their role as fathers is dramatically different from how these roles are portrayed. Three quarters of dads say they are responsible for their child’s emotional well-being, while only 20 percent of dads see this role reflected in media.”

Parenting is something that the men in the audience are passionate about, and Dove’s “touching short film spotlights the expanding and often unrecognized ways dads care for their children. Entitled ‘Calls For Dad,’ the film features real moments that children of all ages share with their fathers, most of which are regrettably absent from media depictions of dads today.”

Click photo and take 60 seconds to watch Dove’s video clip that helps celebrate caring moments of fatherhood.

Dad standing outside holding his child in Dove Men commercial

Dove Men Calls for Dad

The quick list of marketing takeaways for healthcare communicators include:

  • Messages driven by emotions effectively communicate ideas via feelings;
  • Audiences resonate particularly to ideas and feelings they are passionate about;
  • Touching, real life messages can reach men and male demographics.

The Dove Calls for Dad campaign, which also happened to appear around Father’s Day, illustrates that guys also have heartstrings. (And you can bet that spouses saw this one, too.)

Taking a page from the retail world, the formula for success is to pick a compelling topic that connects emotions to something the audience is passionate about.

Women—who account for 80 percent of healthcare purchases—are the most common target audience. But how do you reach men—a notoriously reluctant healthcare audience? You’ll find additional ideas in our previous articles, Man-to-Man Marketing: Reaching Healthcare’s Most Reluctant Patients and Barbershops and Blood Pressure.



Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer at Healthcare Success
Stewart Gandolf, MBA, is Chief Executive Officer of Healthcare Success, one of the nation's leading healthcare and digital marketing agencies. Over the past 20 years, Stewart has marketed and consulted for over 1,000 healthcare clients, ranging from practices and hospitals to multi-billion dollar corporations. A frequent speaker, Stewart has shared his expertise at over 200 venues nationwide. As an author and expert resource, Stewart has also written for many leading industry publications, including the 21,000 subscriber Healthcare Success Insight blog. Stewart also co-authored, "Cash-Pay Healthcare: Start, Grow & Perfect Your Cash-Pay Healthcare Business." Stewart began his career with leading advertising agencies, including J. Walter Thompson, where he marketed Fortune 500 clients such as Wells Fargo and Bally's Total Fitness.



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