Lynx, the male grooming brand, had developed an image problem. Its audience see the brand as a relic of 90s ‘lad culture’. In fact, Lynx had become the butt of their jokes – shorthand for immaturity and desperation. Lynx needed a bold strategy to rebuild their credibility with UK guys. But rather than maturing into yet another bland grooming brand, Lynx was eager to retain its reputation for being outspoken.
CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) exists to prevent male suicide – the single biggest cause of death among men under 45 in the UK. The charity offers support to men feeling down, through a helpline and webchat. More broadly, CALM seeks to challenge a culture that prevents men seeking help when they need it. The main barrier to getting suicide on the public agenda is that it remains the ultimate taboo – nobody wants to talk about it.
In January 2015, Lynx approached CALM with the proposition of a brave collaboration. The intention was to couple Lynx’s access to young men, with CALM’s understanding of arguably the biggest issue facing that demographic. In framing the message as coming from a surprising brand-charity alliance, rather than a charity alone, there was a real opportunity to raise awareness of suicide amongst the group who are most affected by it, and least likely to want to talk about it. The alarming upward trend of male suicide will continue unabated until we start openly talking about the scale of the issue.
The partnership established three aims:
- Increase awareness that suicide is the single biggest killer of young men.
- Give CALM the exposure required to get on policy-makers’ agendas.
- Change perception of Lynx from juvenile to more mature.
To these ends, Lynx and CALM co-developed #BiggerIssues. The campaign spotlighted all the comparatively trivial things that guys talk about more than the single biggest killer of young men. From man-buns to celebrity gaffes, superfoods to skateboarding dogs, #BiggerIssues held a mirror up to all the things that were dominating guy’s conversations. Things that, at any given moment, were ‘bigger’ than suicide.
From November 2nd, live social listening powered the creative across social, online banners and digital billboards - pulling in whatever inane subject was monopolising newsfeeds at that moment. The nationwide creative changed every 2 hours throughout the 2-week campaign, reflecting the rate guys take their own lives in the UK. The topics were also regionally tailored. So when fog descended on London, sites across the capital were updated in real-time to reflect the local conversation about the weather. This was all run by a dedicated Lynx team, working around the clock.
Having grabbed their attention, we asked guys to lend their voice using their Twitter or Facebook handle. Supporters signed up to give us permission to send a single, synchronised message from their accounts at a designated time on International Men’s Day, with the aim of getting the unmentionable topic trending across the UK. Thousands signed up. From those affected by the issue at first hand; to those who had never engaged with the issue before; to people like Professor Green with huge influence.
The organic social reach of those synchronised messages on November 19th surpassed 23 million. #BiggerIssues went well beyond the UK, organically trending from Liverpool to Melbourne to Vancouver. As the campaign climaxed that morning, nothing was talked about more than male suicide. Not even Starbucks’ new Christmas lattés.
Awareness of the fact that suicide is the biggest killer of young men increased by 45% over the campaign, according to a YouGov poll – suggesting that #BiggerIssues succeeded in dismantling a major barrier to addressing the issue. The number of men coming forward to talk also increased, with calls to the helpline rising from 4858 to 5619, and traffic to the CALM website climbing 125%.
The success of the campaign helped secure the first ever parliamentary debate on male suicide. The unprecedented positive exposure resulted in CALM being called upon for high-profile speaking engagements, including a TEDx, enabling them to keep the conversation going around what was once the ultimate taboo.
For Lynx, the social engagement rate was 32% higher than the brand usually enjoys. But it was the overwhelmingly positive sentiment towards the brand, not just from the public, but even from MPs commending Lynx in Parliament, that was most welcome. High praise for a brand once considered shorthand for immaturity. In 2014, Stephen Fry had declared on Twitter that wearing Lynx “should be illegal”. Fast forward to November 2015, and who should be among the biggest voices in the #BiggerIssues campaign? Mr Fry himself. He was just one of 27 million Twitter handles reached by @Lynx during the campaign, with truly brand perception-changing messaging.