Lynx hints at return of ‘entertaining’ ads as it launches new men’s issues campaign

Lynx says its more serious positioning has boosted sales and brand attributes but admits it must also ‘have fun’.

Lynx says it has been “overwhelmed” by the positive reactions to its new, more serious, brand positioning, but adds its future communications will also look to entertain.

It started a brand overhaul nearly three years ago, when it moved away from ‘babes in bikinis’ to focus on more pressing issues. Last year, for example, it honed in on raising awareness of male suicide in partnership with charity CALM.

Rik Strubel, global vice president at Unilever’s Lynx brand, tells Marketing Week it will continue to focus its communications around men’s issues such as mental health and self-confidence. He also hopes, however, that Lynx will be seen as an “entertainment brand” among young men.

“We have always entertained people with our light-hearted communications. When you look at [our advertising], it’s something we need to continue to do,” he says.

“I think we have a way to mix and match things so they connect with people. That’s also what consumers are telling us. There are certain things that we should be serious about, and then others where we can have some fun – and we are trying to do both of those.”

New expressions of being male

Its latest campaign #isitokforguys, which launches today (17 May) and was created by 72andSunny Amsterdam, is part of its ‘Find Your Magic’ platform. It looks to encourage men to rid themselves of cultural pressures and labels telling them what it means to ‘be a man’.

The ad is a Google search-driven campaign that reveals how guys are asking the questions they can’t face asking out loud, such as ‘Is it ok for guys to wear pink?’ and ‘Is it ok for guys to experiment with other guys?’.

There are certain things that we should be serious about, and then others where we can have some fun – and we are trying to do both of those.

Rik Strubel, Lynx

The campaign includes a 45-second film, as well as interviews with 30 Lynx partners answering guys’ most searched questions.

Strubel says the new campaign was based on research it conducted with charity Promundo, which analysed what life is like for men.

READ MORE: Lynx is moving away from its ‘1990s lads mag’ branding, here’s why

The research revealed 65% of respondents have been told that “a real man” should behave a certain way. Some 66% think society expects them to act strong, even if they feel scared, and 56% feel they are expected to figure out problems on their own without asking for help.

“There are barriers that hold them back. We looked at what they’re concerned about and searching for online by partnering with Google. We wanted to put those out there and tell men they can do whatever they think is right and express themselves the way they want,” he says.

An ‘overwhelming’ response

Strubel adds its more serious brand positioning has been developing “incredibly quickly” in line with society, and that it has been “overwhelmed” by the positive responses.

After launching its ‘Find Your Magic’ campaign last year, the brand saw an “immediate bump” in brand attributes, with consumers labelling the brand “cool and trendy”. While Strubel did not want to share financial figures, he does say the brand has grown as a result.

We felt that before 2016, we were getting a bit out of touch with guys, so now we have that touch back again. But it’s a marathon and not a sprint, so we’re still growing over time.

“Our new brand positioning seems to be hitting a mark among both men and women. It seems like it’s the right thing to do to keep that brand focus and be in their lives as a useful partner,” he says.

“We felt that before 2016, we were getting a bit out of touch with guys, so now we have that touch back again. But it’s a marathon and not a sprint, so we’re still growing over time.”

Going forward, it will be working with more charity partners such as CALM and anti-bullying charity Ditch the Label to make its campaigns go further. Its initiative with CALM last year increased awareness of suicide being the main cause of death among young men by 45%, according to YouGov figures supplied by the brand.

“Eating disorders for men are through the roof, boys are falling behind in school, and suicide and mental illness is growing among men. Something in society seems to be going the wrong way, so this brand as well as others have a responsibility to try and help them.”

When asked if consumers really want their deodorant to have a social purpose, Strubel insists the younger generation now “demand” brands make a positive impact on society.

“Young guys are demanding that we not only sell products, but that we also do something for them. I think it’s the right demand, and we need to respond to that demand as marketers,” he concludes.

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