Best Practices Advertising to Men: Marketing the Payback Fantasy

Want to win the hearts of your male customers?  Smart marketers have learned there is nothing men enjoy more than the sweet taste of vengeance. In this three-minute emotional marketing lesson video, emotional marketing expert Graeme Newell shows how to use the payback fantasy to form solid masculine brand connections.

When we think of the largest demographics out there, sex is among the most dominant. Split down the middle, we as advertisers have great opportunity to market to men or women individually. Today I’m going to talk about how marketing to men can be done effectively with emotional marketing.

Advertising to Men

When advertising to men, or any other demographic, it’s important to first decide what it is that makes that group tick. Do they like to feel cool? Dangerous? Sexy? Freaky? The list goes on, but when marketing to men, you have to really hone in on the core values. This is particularly important when marketing to men because men are such a diverse and massive segment of the population. Marketing to men relies on broad, universal values that most men hold.

What is the best emotional driver to use when advertising to men? Revenge, ingenuity, and a little bit of dominance sprinkled in. When advertising to men, these two feelings are some of the strongest you can use to really appeal to them. So let’s take a look at these two feelings individually.

Advertising to Men Using Revenge

When marketing to men, it’s important to understand that most men feel very controlled and pushed-around by their wives and girlfriends. So the best ads for advertising to men always open with a man being harried by his wife. They show all of the frustration and anguish that being browbeaten causes, and then they move into the payback phase. When marketing to men, the best advertisers always show a man getting the one-up on his wife or girlfriend, but does so while demonstrating the cool features of the product.

Advertising to Men Using Ingenuity

While advertising to men using revenge is a great tactic, another which is used just as much is advertising to men using ingenuity – in fact, the two go hand-in-hand very often. The key to marketing to men using ingenuity is that you have to show men outsmarting their wives or girlfriends. The intelligence is important, but the main focus when you’re marketing to men using ingenuity is to show the use of that superior intelligence to establish dominance over their wife or girlfriend. This ingenuity is most often shown a man using his superior intelligence to trick or deceive their wife or girlfriend.

Marketing to Men Using Dominance

While not a core emotion on its own in this case, marketing to men using dominance is a very important part of both advertising to men using revenge and advertising to men using ingenuity. In fact, every one of these tools for marketing to men could be rolled into each other for one feeling. The important aspect here is that whether he is deceiving his wife or girlfriend or simply getting sweet revenge, the result is always that the man is establishing dominance over his wife or girlfriend.

So let’s do a quick recap

  • When advertising to men, it’s best to market to them using revenge or ingenuity
  • When advertising to men using revenge, show the man being brow-beaten by his wife or girlfriend, and then show the sweet, sweet revenge he wreaks upon them later
  • When advertising to men using ingenuity, make sure your man tricks or deceives his wife or girlfriend using his superior intellect
  • When marketing to men, always make sure that dominance is a core component, regardless of the particular technique used.


Transcription text of the 3-Minute Emotional Marketing Lesson Video “Best Practices for Advertising to Men: Marketing the Payback Fantasy” by Graeme Newell, emotional marketing researcher, emotional marketing speaker and customer loyalty researcher, and consultant at 602 Communications.

Hi I’m Graeme Newell and today I’m going to show how marketers use revenge and sexism to bond with male customers. When you’re a husband, sometimes it seems like you can never please the wife.

“Slow down, slow down, what’s the hurry? You’re driving like a maniac! Are you listening? Are you listening?

Why do advertisers roll out these henpecked husbands? Because there’s nothing sweeter than the payback.

“Hiiiiiiiiiii. Great, now look at what you’ve done, I told you not to drive so”

Plain and simple, he outsmarted her.

“For drivers that want to get the most out of their cars, there’s Bridgestone, or nothing.”

Mr. Potato head did two very important things in this ad. He demonstrated the tire’s stopping power, but just as important, he made men feel smarter and more powerful than their wives.

“I love this Miller Lite aluminum pint, oh really”

This has proven to be one of advertisings most alluring emotions for men, and it shows up again and again.

“My dearest Lisa, as we enter our first day apart, I already miss you terribly. Believe me honey, it’s no picnic out here. But don’t you worry about me. Somehow I’ll get through it. And know in your heart, I will see you soon. Though, I just can’t say when. Patrick. You’ll find it hard to come back. The 244 horsepower pilot, from Honda”

In this PC Penney ad our henpecked hero breaks his word to get home early from poker night.

“Flush. Hey fellas, I gotta get goin. Come on man. I gotta go apple pickin with the missus tomorrow. Ugh. I’m not kiddin. Come on guy, she won’t mind. Ok, a couple more hands. What’s the worst that could happen, right?”

He suddenly finds himself returned to the doghouse where offending husbands are put on trial.

“Case number 478, Jonathon “Bold” Bolkowski. Listen for the hundredth time all I said was her mom looked good in a bathing suit. And you don’t see wh- it was a compliment. And you don’t understand how it’s inappropriate to tell her that her mother looked hot. I didn’t say hot. The word he used was “smoking.” Smoking? And he made this hot sizzle noise. Like this. Honey! What kind of gift is this? It’s a beer-making kit. I don’t even like beer. It’s a wonderful beverage. Get out. You got your wife a paper shredder? I’m sorry, a hammer drill? You got her a robe? A nice robe. It’s from a hotel. A nice hotel. Next. Five-star hotel what else does she want. Just go fold. Hey Helen, Anne, Jessica. Donny, didn’t we just see you? That was some poker game you guys had huh? I know, I know. You’re gonna be in here for a long time Donny. No, I don’t think so. Look what I found. That’s nice, Helen, it’s, you know. Very smart. See you tomorrow? Yea, probably.”

…Ingenuity, and JC Penney jewelry, get him out of the doghouse.  So remember, if you want to build a bond with men, showing them outsmarting their wives is one of advertising’s most ingenious ways to stroke male egos.  I’m Graeme Newell and that’s emotional marketing.

Leave a Reply

how can we help you?

Since our founding, marketing strategy has been one of our core businesses. We work with companies in every industry to develop strategies that deliver results.