Welcome to the DEI+ Campaign Spotlight, where we highlight various campaigns that embed DEI strategies into their marketing plans. By sharing these ideas and sparking a conversation around DEI, our society can continue to both learn and unlearn our ever-changing consumer trends.
Our previous DEI+ Campaign Spotlight took a look at Apple's The Greatest campaign, which called attention to the lives of differently-abled individuals and the ways in which Apple products can help enhance their daily experiences. We found this campaign to be noteworthy due to Apple’s focus on people over products and how it worked to normalize inclusivity in marketing and challenge mainstream perspectives. Through the lens of the campaign, we were able to see how prioritizing disability inclusion enables brands to appeal to a broader customer base and attract top talent, all while working towards encouraging a more inclusive society.
This Week's Campaign Highlight: Gymshark’s Deload Campaign
This week we’re highlighting Gymshark, a global fitness apparel brand from the UK whose efforts to destigmatize men’s mental health have helped them to successfully build their brand and connect with consumers. For this campaign, Gymshark partnered with two mental health organizations: Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) based in the UK, and The Jed Foundation (JED) based in the US.
“Deload exists to deliver a stream of positive information, guidance and entertainment, that boosts you when you're at your mental best, and supports you when you're not. Whether you're looking for some direction or some distraction, Deload is on-call to help take the weight off your mind.”
Deload aims to foster inclusive and safe space through podcasts, seminars, or personal 1-2-1 with an expert, as an outlet that covers everything mental health from Gymshark.
Gymshark’s Deload Barber Pop-Up in the UK
Along with Gymshark’s online mental health platform, the fitness brand worked with CALM to open the Deload Barber Shop. Located in Shoreditch, London and open for a week in July 2022, the shop offered a “non-judgemental safe space” for men to open up, offload, and connect with professional mental health-trained barbers, all while receiving a free trim.
Besides the complimentary haircuts, Gymshark also hosted panel discussions with various representatives from CALM, Lions Barbers, Curfew Grooming, and their own roster of athletes and influencers. Topics included “Be the Mate You’d Want” and “Building Real Strength,” with each panel aiming to continue the conversation with a larger group.
Why did Gymshark choose a barber pop-up over a traditional pop-up?
According to a company representative, they felt that men would be more likely to share their true thoughts and emotions in a personal rather than professional setting. “We found that people talk to their barbers more than their doctors, than mental health professionals,” they explained. “So we found this to be an authentic way to create something branded and work with Calm to make a difference for men’s mental health.”
The Key to Gymshark's Successful Campaign – Fostering a Safe Space for Men
Noel Mack, Gymshark’s Chief Brand Officer, shared his dedication and passion towards destigmatizing and normalizing topics of mental health in men, especially in the world of fitness:
“In my time as Chief Brand Officer, we will be building the Gymshark brand and doing really great things, but also helping young men with depression and tackling that horrible stat that the biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK is suicide.”
Traditional masculinity places societal expectations for men to be stoic, self-reliant, and unemotional. According to Dr. Ronald F. Levant, “Men are less likely than women to seek help for mental health issues, they die by suicide more often, and they commit and are the victims of more homicide.” Gender-based expectations such as these contribute to a pattern of men shying away from being vulnerable about their mental wellbeing, thereby continuing the vicious cycle of toxic masculinity.
Creating a true and authentic community for men out of the blue may sound like an intimidating and confusing prospect, but Gymshark’s Deload campaign was able to achieve exactly that. By providing athletic apparel lovers both virtual and in-person experiences, the campaign went beyond simply reaching an audience like typical campaigns do, and instead sparked conversations and provided men an opportunity to challenge their toxic masculine beliefs and connect with one another — all in an effort to promote mental wellbeing beyond the gym.
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