Creative Director’s Choice: Sariah Dorbin of Quigley-Simpson applauds masculinity spot by Bonobos

Bonobos redefines masculinity in recent campaign

Creative Director’s Choice gives creative directors a chance to highlight the work they think is the best out in the ad world – the ads and campaigns they believe are making a difference.

This week, Sariah Dorbin, vice president, executive creative director at Quigley-Simpson, celebrates Bonobos for evolving the definition of masculinity.

Google the word 'toxic' today and the first autofill search term you’re served will likely be 'toxic masculinity'. Despite how this sounds, and how much we hear it in this flashpoint cultural moment of #MeToo and #TimesUp, this phrase refers not to how men damage women, but to how perceived notions of masculinity can damage men themselves.

In a campaign designed to run on ESPN during the ESPYS, men’s clothing e-tailer Bonobos challenges a sports-crazed audience to #EvolveTheDefinition of masculinity. The video series kicks off with the literal definition of the word, as read by men from the dictionary. Each, in turn, looks deflated, disappointed, or disgusted by this narrow interpretation of their personhood. They then say, in rapid-fire cuts, how they fail to recognize themselves in the words and are unwilling to be defined by them.

In a subsequent series of decidedly unflashy videos, men speak – with sincerity, authenticity, and sensitivity – directly to the camera about what being a man means to them. Men of all types, from effeminate men to so-called 'masculine' men, talk about what courage really means, why they like to cry and how rewarding it can be to challenge one’s own sense of the right way to move through the world as a male. The series is a celebration, and in fact the very definition, of an “evolved” man. It’s also genuinely and powerfully moving.

Fashion, let’s face it, is not historically known for its cultural sensitivity or sense of proportion regarding its own importance. But here, clothes assume their proper place. They don’t make the man so much as work in the background to show us all the ways a man can look. From where I sit, Bonobos is making men look better than ever.

Sariah Dorbin is vice president, executive creative director at Quigley-Simpson in Los Angeles.

See the work by clicking on the Creative Works box below.

To see the latest creative ads and campaigns, visit The Drum’s Creative Works section. If you would like to feature a creative director in our Creative Director’s Choice, please contact Creative Works editor Kyle O’Brien.

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