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WongDoody on recreating the iconic 90s CK ads with trans men

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By The Drum | Editorial

December 7, 2023 | 7 min read

WongDoody and Both& have won the Launch or Relaunch category at The Drum Awards for PR. Here is the award-winning case study.

Check out the award-winning campaign

Imagine not yet feeling at home in your own body. Not being able to look in the mirror. This is part of being transgender. You have to leave the house. Work. University. Life. You’re saving for gender-affirming surgery, but the wait is years. Clothes that help you be recognized as a man could ease your anxiety—or save you from a hate crime. Pioneering fashion brand Both& make clothes specifically designed to create masculine silhouettes and sizing to bring gender euphoria. Both&’s signature transmasc denim hides curvy hips and their tees are specifically designed to broaden shoulders and create flat chests. Most trans people don’t know the brand.

Our objectives: • Develop a creative idea that redefines modern masculinity. • Establish Both& as the transgender fashion brand on a global stage. • Aid Both&’s in reaching their sales target of 25% for the new denim collection. • Introduce the brand primarily to London, alongside the other fashion forward cities - Paris and NYC while avoiding transphobic attack. • Reach Gen Z as demographic who are 15% LGBTQ+ (reported by Gallup).

With a budget of just £20,000 - we needed to empower trans men with a moment of feeling seen through societal disruption and community-focused storytelling and show that ‘clothes do make the man.’

TARGET AUDIENCE & STRATEGY Research from Both& in the community found that 99% of trans men can’t find clothing that fits—most experience daily dysphoria—and they don’t know where to look for clothes. Both& needed more growth than on word of mouth alone. They needed Gen-Z trans folks to discover the brand. Inspiring trans men during a moment in history where they face global persecution, creating a moment of identifying themselves in pop culture and discovering Both& at the same time. We hijacked a globally-recognized fashion moment—the iconic 90s Calvin Klein clothing campaigns, when cisgender male models were first able to show-off their sex appeal. Both& can do the same for trans men, creating cultural icons out of the community by breaking taboos around what defines masculinity and empowerment.

IMPLEMENTATION & CREATIVITY We insta-scouted trans men and invited them to become models for the campaign and role models for their community. Wearing Both&’s signature transmasc denim that hides curvy hips and tees that broaden shoulders and create flat chests. The result was the ‘Boys Boys Boys’ photography campaign - shot in London with an entirely LGBTQIA+ cast and crew making it a safe space. Including creative direction from iconic trans actor Daniel Sea, acclaimed non-binary fashion photographer Lydia Garnett behind the camera and an accompanying CK-influenced fashion film used a custom-signature music track from trans music producer Baby Brown. With transmen front and center of the campaign—we were shouting out to the world it’s natural to be desirable and there’s clothes made just for them. We launched in the week leading up to Trans Day of Visibility using the moment as a platform for trans people to be championed and a news hook for the brand. Emulating the CK campaign, we cost-effectively fly-postered our imagery on the streets of Fashion Week cities – London, Paris and New York City. Then leveraged people within the trans community who chose to hype campaign and supercharge it through socials in a way only an authentic community connection can.

This got the brand to the quietest and most transphobic corners of the world in a safe way by focusing on: • Disruptive physical presence in fashion cities as a beacon for trans folks - dialing up inclusion within a traditionally exclusionary industry. • A safe space for our LGBTQIA+ cast and crew, who shared the campaign with the trans and gay community—not because of fine print in the contract, but because they felt proud. • Images that excite community and grab press attention in queer, trend and style press. We created a narrative path that took the campaign from the streets and social media channels of the trans community to the websites of global queer press then onto culture defining Gen Z titles.

RESULTS & EVALUATION The campaign itself led to real business results, with a 75% increase in denim sales (50% above sales target), which also played a part in the 137% growth from Q1 of 2023 over Q4 of 2022. In addition, the brand saw a positive Lifetime Value / Customer Acquisition Cost ratio of 10x, whilst attaining an oversubscription in the angel round of investment to take the Both& to the next level. When it came to driving awareness of the brand, with just £0 social spend, the community led the instant social buzz. Gen-Z flocked to the posters and sharing on socials, achieving 1.8 million social impressions and 17,000+ engagements completely organically in one week. A scroll through the comments shows the importance of the campaign: From a community point of view, “I’ve watched from the beginning and so proud and happy to see where this brand has grown”, to consumers; “Joy, togetherness, freedom and the right to be present - this project is amazing”, and ultimately to Both&’s financial backers; “so proud to be an investor in this incredible brand.” We achieved quality coverage that featured all key messaging with a PR reach of 49 million in five days. Scoring hero articles where it matters – hitting the homepages of queer leading titles in the UK; Gay Times said the images were “beautiful”, Attitude said they were “absolute fire”. Gen Z media delivered with global hype title Hypebae covering and Hunger proudly proclaiming, “Transmen take center stage” alongside coverage in GUAP and BRICKS saying we “broke taboos”.

WHY DO YOU THINK YOUR ENTRY SHOULD WIN THIS AWARD? Boys Boys Boys signaled Both&’s entry onto the global retail stage as the destination transmasc brand – particularly their signature denim. Our strategy was to redefine modern masculinity to include trans men and introduce Both& clothes to the trans community by recreating the iconic CK ads of the ’90s in which cis men were first empowered to show off their bodies. This is best exemplified by our three trans men, who were by no means professional fashion models, yet you can see how sure they are in themselves—not only because of how the clothes fit to enhance masc looks, but also how the space was designed with their comfort in mind. The confidence that bursts unapologetically through in the campaign imagery and film inadvertently let the world know that there’s power in being desirable via clothing that’s out there, made just for them. In short, Boys Boys Boys has paved the way for transmasculine, non-binary and gender non-conforming/expansive communities to feel seen, valued and empowered to shop for apparel that doesn’t just fit, but looks good while doing so.

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