Bonobos sets out to #EvolveTheDefinition of 'masculinity'

For the campaign, 172 people were interviewed about how they define masculinity.

NEW YORK: A quick search of the definition of the word "masculinity" brings up synonyms such as red-blooded, strong, macho, and manly. Men's clothing retailer Bonobos is kicking off a campaign on July 18 to #EvolveTheDefinition.

Bonobos is encouraging everyone to take part in a national conversation to create tangible change, question cultural norms, embrace diversity, and spread inclusivity.

A 90-second video, conceptualized and produced in-house by Bonobos agency partner Observatory Marketing, includes 172 interviews with real people about how they define masculinity. They offer alternative interpretations that expand the definition to become more accepting.

Todd Hunter, co-chief creative director at Observatory, added that the interviews include intimate stories from fathers to young men talking about toxic masculinity and how it shaped their lives.

Bonobos was founded around the philosophy of "fit for every man," explained Joseph Saroufim, creative director at Observatory, formerly known as CAA Marketing. However, the campaign team recognized a problem that was antithetical to the brand proposition.

"When your reason for being is predicated on inclusiveness, we felt like we couldn’t ignore that many men in our society are made to feel like they don’t fit in," said Saroufim.

For the video, Saroufim interviewed individuals across a wide spectrum of what masculinity might be considered, including trans men, women who identify as masculine, every race, age, and body type.

"Instead of asking them to fit into a preconceived notion of what being a man is, we asked them how they define masculine," said Saroufim. "We want men, women, anybody who ever felt like they didn’t fit, to feel like they have a place and they have a voice."

On Wednesday, the 90-second video will appear on the YouTube masthead, and run a promoted trending tweet, culminating in a national broadcast premier during The ESPYs on ABC. The campaign team chose to air the video during The ESPYs because it "celebrates one of our most notoriously ‘macho’ pastimes – sports," according to a statement.

The campaign team also created a microsite, evolvethedefinition.com, that backs up the statements made in the film. The site houses videos of the 172 interviews. Visitors to the site can add a new synonym to the definition of masculine and share it via social media.

"We are creating a living and evolving definition of masculine," said Hunter.

"Our aim is to have people have this conversation at a time in culture when men should be talking about these issues and make the world a better place," he added. "We want to break through to incite this dialogue and leverage different influencers in this campaign, posting to social and beyond. We will bring that to life across Bonobos owned channels, as well."

Budget information was not disclosed. Observatory started working with Bonobos in January 2017. Other agencies that worked on this campaign include media agency Exverus Media and PR firm LaunchSquad. Digital agency Use All Five built the microsite.

CAA Marketing, the majority of which was acquired last year by private equity fund Stagwell Media, formally changed its name to Observatory Marketing earlier this year.

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