Bonobos challenges definitions of masculinity with viral 'micro-documentary,' YouTube takeover
- Men's clothing brand Bonobos unveiled #EvolveTheDefinition, a "movement" that questions the definition of masculinity and encourages conversations about what it means to be a man today, per details provided to Marketing Dive by email.
- The campaign includes a 90-second "micro-documentary" that has a diverse group of men reading the definition of "masculine," which includes words like "muscular" and "powerful." They then give their own takes on what it means to be a man.
- The video debuted during the ESPY Awards on July 18. #EvolveTheDefinition additionally includes a microsite featuring interviews with the models in the campaign, a YouTube homepage takeover and Twitter and Instagram content.
Walmart-owned Bonobos continues to try and build a brand around themes of diversity, inclusivity and more modern portrayals of masculinity, recognizing the desire among many consumers for marketers to break with stale gender stereotypes. It's an approach that's already attracted a lot of attention: the YouTube documentary has racked up more than 4.5 million views as of press time, though it has more dislikes than likes, showing how conversations around challenging masculinity can be a touchy subject. The effort still gels with Bonobos' recent creative efforts, including a 30-second TV spot it ran in May that showed 172 men of different shapes, ages and ethnicities, representing the company's full range of pant sizes.
Despite the risk of backlash, marketers continue to emphasize more positive, progressive portrayals of both men and women in their advertising. This strategy seems to resonate most with younger consumers, who are more often rejecting traditional notions of gender. The packaged goods giant Unilever last month expanded its Unstereotype initiative across all content formats and called on content creators and distributors to remove any outdated stereotypes in their marketing. #EvolveTheDefinition also follows the agency BBDO New York's public awareness campaign #ItsTimetoRedefine, which rolled out in March and is aimed at changing the definition of the word "woman" as it appears in online dictionaries to remove sexist tropes.
While much of recent gender-positive marketing has targeted women, Bonobos is part of a growing list of male-centered brands to adopt the approach. Direct-to-consumer grooming products company Harry's released a three-minute short film in February titled "A Man Like You" that focuses on what it means to be a man today. Likewise, Unilever's Axe switched its messaging last year with an "Is It Ok For Guys?" campaign that challenged the concept of toxic masculinity through real questions men searched on Google.