Editorial: Hiring Affleck as face of Lynx is sign of the times

What is to be deduced from Bartle Bogle Hegarty's choice of Ben Affleck to front the latest ad for Lynx deodorant? Not so long ago, Lynx ads were an unashamed pitch to lads whose idea of heaven was a romp with a couple of football-loving girls. More recently, the strategy took a more sophisticated twist with the tale of a couple retracing their steps after a one-night stand. Although simple and charming, and a deserved gold winner at Cannes, the film still kept Lynx firmly associated with blokes getting their leg over.

Now comes Affleck - an interesting choice, because of what it says about how adland is having to adapt its offering to reflect the way male consumers see themselves in the new millennium. Affleck is one of a new generation of movie stars who are nothing like the Hollywood hunks of the past. On the contrary, they are often physically unimposing. They come across as ordinary guys who, importantly for advertisers, give other ordinary guys permission to use products they might previously have shied away from.

As Marian Salzman, JWT's resident futurologist, argues on page 24, advertisers need to show sensitivity and agility when selling to men, not least because of the blurring of the borders between traditional male and female territory.

Marketing to men these days means ignoring extreme views on male identity.

No-one but the most conservative reactionary would go along with the verdict of the former BBC newsreader Michael Buerk, who claims women now rule the roost. Nor is it likely that many men really fancy the idea of getting in touch with their "feminine side".

The growth of the male personal-grooming market has shown what can be achieved if the promotional tactics are right. In the 50s, hardly any men used a deodorant. Today, 84 per cent do. What has happened in the personal care market looks set to be repeated in others. Salzman cites the results of a New York survey showing that not only do many men do most of the cleaning at home, but they can also name their preferred brand of cleaning product. How long before Tom Hanks gets signed up for a Persil ad?