Creative Director’s Choice: Code and Theory’s Dan Gardner on the 'masculinity' Bonobos campaign

#EvolveTheDefinition campaign by Bonobos

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, Dan Gardner, co-founder and chief executive officer/lead creative at Code and Theory, makes a case for the Bonobos #EvolveTheDefinition campaign on redefining masculinity.

Consumers want to see their brands stand for something. People engage with brands that drive social good and take part in culture and politics. A recent example that I think does this well is the campaign for Bonobos created by Observatory Agency.

When you search “masculine” in the dictionary, it’s defined as strength and aggressiveness – reinforcing antiquated gender norms. Synonyms like macho, vigorous and rugged come up, pigeonholing men into a category that limits their ability to truly express the complex facets of their identities. The definition is out of touch with a post-modern version of masculinity that Bonobos is bringing to people’s attention.

With the #EvolveTheDefinition campaign, Bonobos progresses the brand from a men’s clothing brand to the brand that fits all men.

Strategically, I like it because the campaign uses a content-rich approach through the entire ecosystem and is not just a ‘campaign video.’ It had a cultural relevance via the launch at the ESPYs, and extended through social and digital in a way that put storytelling at the center. This is all anchored by my favorite part of the campaign – the website. When you get to the landing page, you scroll freely through the 172 interviews, slapping you in the face that the general, outdated definition of “masculine” does not describe the men on the screen. All of the touchpoints with the campaign provide an education into a deeper experience.

The message was polarizing, but it showed the brand stood for something and ultimately, it had an overwhelmingly positive response that paid off with business results. It’s inspiring to see a fashion brand that knows their product isn’t only their clothes, but also their ethos – and marketing that ethos made for an inspiring campaign.

Dan Gardner is co-founder and chief executive officer/lead creative at Code and Theory and is based in New York.

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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