Lads, Lynx and a new age of masculinity

When did Lynx receive the wake up call? When male grooming started becoming mainstream? When the new dawn of feminism championed #heforshe? Or perhaps it was when Unilever scoured the accounts and realised that if the brand didn’t change its tune, Lynx would be facing into sales oblivion…

Whatever the trigger, Lynx – the brand that for years has been an exaggerated embodiment of lads’ culture and stereotypical masculinity – is finally taking a step in a new strategic direction. As their raw and thought provoking new campaign ‘Is it ok for guys…?’ so powerfully demonstrates, the definition of masculinity has moved on. And Lynx is finally embracing that change.

Based on Google Search data, the campaign reveals the insecurities and fears of guys today, over 50% of whom feel pressure to behave a certain way to be a ‘real man’. With depression and suicide rates sky high amongst young men, Lynx has a new mission – seeking to use its brand influence to fight those crushing limitations along with partners such as CALM and Ditch the Label. It is now standing against everything it has previously stood for.

This U-turn may come as a surprise, and it’s yet to be seen whether the brand can pull it off, but the truth is that Lynx is not alone. Whether it’s Special K attempting to shake off its cliché diet connotations and embrace the positivity that’s part of healthy eating today, or Dove famously redefining what ‘beauty’ means to women, brands across the ages have had to alter their course to stay relevant in a changing world.

It’s an inherent tension of brand strategy. On the one hand, strategy has to be fixed enough to allow a brand to stand firm, to be consistent in its communication and to have a chance to build associations in consumers’ minds. But on the other hand, if strategy doesn’t adapt, you wake up one day to find that your take on masculinity is a mimicry of the past with zero relevance to your target audience…

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