OpinionPOSTED January 28, 2015

Why the long beard? #lumbersexual

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This is NOT your typical article on the lumbersexual phenomenon.

But as a bro who often finds himself working with male-focused brands, I can’t help but try to understand the urge to don flannel shirts, grow beards and dress like a lumberjack.

At the very least, we should all consider its origin before we send yet ANOTHER lumbersexual pitch to our contacts.

In case you were wondering – with a media contact I know having claimed to receive SIX different lumbersexual pitches in one week – it’s no longer a clever idea.

Sure, science has reported that men with a certain level of facial hair are more attractive to the opposite sex. But if all it took to initiate such a strong social movement was a positive female reinforcement, guys would have learned to put the seat down on the toilet ages ago.

No, personally I think the rise of the lumbersexual has more to do with the underlying social needs of me and my brethren to find our place in the modern era.

Think about it.

As the fairer sex continues to fearlessly rock traditional social barriers to dust, what have guys done as a whole for society lately?

We’ve been seriously coasting.

I have often heard of ours as a generation of man-children. As a result, my generation has been searching to define our role and voice in society. But unfortunately, we haven’t had many tangible places to look for guidance.

If you consider some of the headlines this past year, I think we can all agree we haven’t had many men to emulate. As a result, we are a gender divided, not sure where – or how – we stand.

Naturally we looked to anywhere applicable in society for examples – and think about what has gained popularity over the last few years.

“No, personally I think the rise of the lumbersexual has more to do with the underlying social needs of me and my brethren to find our place in the modern era.”

TV shows like Mad Men and Suits, superhero movies and Game of Thrones – all stories where men were fearless, served as the hero (or in some case the anti-hero) and brought about change through conflict. You know uber-bro stuff.

As awesome as it would be to don the cape and cowl, walk down the street carrying a battle axe while sipping bourbon, sadly, these heroes do not serve as a viable option for the generation to aspire.

So we all decided to settle on something more attainable – the lumberjack. Hard working men (and women), who proved to have similar values to a lesser extreme.

But this too provides limited opportunities for a generation to strive with a lifestyle hard to emulate. But with literally nowhere left to look, we instead adopt their ‘fashion’ as our own and decided if we can’t act like men we’d at least look like them.

But as true men know – like the super heroes, lumberjacks and warriors of old – men aren’t considered men for just looking the part.

They are considered men for having character and our generation needs to be taught how to have character.

So how do we define the modern man in the current era? Let me answer that with a rhetorical question, who has the resources to reach the most people and bring about change most effectively?

The answer is simple, brands do.

This is not a new concept, and a report from this past year showed the Millennial generation – both men and women – look to brands to play a larger role in societal development.

So, we have a need, and not just an engaged audience but a HUNGRY audience, why shouldn’t a brand speak on the matter?

Men rise and fall in a short matter of time, but the strongest brands have a legacy that stretches across generations. Who better to help shape the next generation than organizations, which have not only lived through changing social forces, but also have a vested interest in what’s to come?

The fate of both society and brands are forever tied after all.

So before you draft another lumbersexual pitch for your brand, or pile on to another quick fad ask yourself – what’s really going on here? It may be the difference between one news hit and a world changing legacy.

Who’s ready to change the world?

Jon Koidis, consultant at APEX PR, has survived gridirons and locker rooms all over the western hemisphere, making him a proud member of the ‘bro’ culture. Follow him on Twitter.

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