Is it ok for guys to…be the little spoon? Cry? Wear pink? By studying the questions people ask Google, Unilever’s LYNX saw an opportunity to empower young men to be just who they should be—themselves. LYNX and 72andSunny’s YouTube campaign answered some burning questions and helped redefine what it means to be a man.
We still live in a world filled with labels and limits. Pressure from society and their peers can leave young men questioning whether they’re “normal” or “manly” enough—pressure that ultimately makes bullying and depression so common among men.
Unilever’s LYNX evolved its own identity with its 2016 “Find Your Magic” campaign that celebrated individuality and personal choice. This year, after noticing that many young guys were turning to Google for answers to questions they didn’t feel comfortable asking anyone else, LYNX was inspired to develop a new campaign to help young men who silently suffer under outdated labels.
Search data as a social lab: Uncovering the burning questions
LYNX and its creative agency 72andSunny partnered with the Google team on the effort, starting by looking closely at Google and YouTube search data to see questions men ask online. "We wanted to see what men are insecure about and what their concerns about manliness are,” explained Rik Strubel, LYNX’s global vice president.
Insights from the most common queries like, “Is it ok for a guy to do yoga?” and “Can men wear pink?” confirmed their hunches that young men still feel pressure to live up to classic masculine ideals.
LYNX saw an opportunity to shine a light on the pressures young men feel and show them that being your own man is more important than “being a man.” So the brand leaned on the authenticity and influence of emerging YouTube creators, celebrity influencers, and even a World Heavyweight Champion to respond to guys’ most common questions about masculinity in a series of YouTube films and bumper ads that redefined what it means to “man up.”
Celebrities and creators offer answers and social support
As the old adage goes, “You can’t be what you can’t see,” and there weren’t many male role models in pop culture showing young men that it’s okay to be different. Bringing in recognizable talking heads was important to help guys envision being happy while being themselves. LYNX also brought on support from its partner non-governmental organization Ditch the Label to offer guys extra help with more serious issues, including bullying, racism, and mental health.
The talent offered answers to guys’ most common questions in 13 unique, contextually targeted long-form and bumper ads on YouTube. The films spanned more than 30 popular YouTube topics, including sports and fashion/style. For example, if a guy searched for a YouTube video related to cooking, he would see the “is it ok for guys to cook” bumper ad featuring Wiley, a popular UK artist, and a CTA to watch the full version.
LYNX successfully serves up a powerful social message
By combining the prestige of popular influencers with YouTube’s massive reach, LYNX was able to effectively connect young men around the world with its revamped brand messaging. In just the first two weeks of the campaign, LYNX’s videos received more than two million total views and more than one billion media impressions.
Along with celebrating individuality, personal choices, and being comfortable in your own skin, LYNX’s campaign highlighted the value brands can drive by using data-driven insights to craft a relevant and compelling story. “We were excited to see the videos grab millions of views and hundreds of thousands of shares and likes, but for our team, the best part of the campaign was understanding just how eager young guys are to move on from antiquated labels. We’re going to intensify our work against bullying, against labels for men, and do our best to give a better voice to those issues," concluded Rik Strubel, global vice-president at LYNX.