Ads We Like: Bonobos redefines what it means to be masculine

Men’s clothing and accessories company Bonobos is expanding the antiquated definition of the word ‘masculine’ and it uncovers that many modern men don’t relate to the term.

The spot, called #EvolvetheDefinition was created specifically for ESPN’s awards show, the ESPYs, which airs tonight (July 18). The campaign features all kinds of people, including trans and men of color, talking about what masculine means to them. The point is to kickstart a timely conversation on how masculine can mean more.

In the spot, some men read the dictionary definition of the word: having qualities or appearance traditionally associated with men, especially strength and aggressiveness. As they go on to read the synonyms, like macho and manly, many either laugh or cringe, noting that the terms do not fit their personalities.

“None of these really sound like me,” states one man. “You define your own masculinity,” confidently states another. All the varied people featured have a personal definition, one defined by who they are, and their definitions show that being masculine can mean being emotional and tender, strong and caring, and definitely individual.

Bonobos chief executive officer Andy Dunn and co-president Micky Onvural worked with collaborative agency Observatory to bring their vision for this campaign to life. The spot was directed by Michael Rohrbaugh, who also directed the documentary Alone in the Game, chronicling the professional and personal struggles and journeys of LGBTQ athletes.

Dunn and Onvural's idea for this campaign came out of their Project 172 work this spring, which featured 172 people who identify as masculine, honoring the 172 fits for the Bonobos classic pant. The #EvolveTheDefinition campaign builds on this bring the conversation on what ‘masculine’ means into the national consciousness.

Joseph Saroufim from Observatory, the creative director on #EvolveTheDefinition, said: “When we saw the limited and toxic definition of ‘masculine,’ we recognized it as a problem antithetical to our client’s brand proposition – fit for every man. When your reason for being is predicated on inclusiveness, you can’t ignore that many men in our society are made to feel like they don’t fit in. We decided to challenge that definition by interviewing individuals across a wide spectrum, including trans men and women who identify as masculine. Instead of asking men to fit into a preconceived notion of being a man, the goal is to use their voices to create a world where every man – and every person – fits.”

The campaign also features the individual interviews with the men featured in the main video.

To view more of the videos, click on the Creative Works box below.

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