75% of all suicides in the UK are male. Indeed suicide is the single biggest killer of men age 20-45. Not accidents or cardiac arrests but suicide. That's because men don’t talk about their mental health issues. As the Brits say, they ‘bottle them up’.
Topman is part of the fabric of young British male fashion. Democratising high fashion trends with affordable styles for young men, the brand stands for a contemporary and daring image with a youthful identity. Yet at the intersection of image and identity lies a point of tension that young males struggle to talk about: the battle between outer appearance and inner wellbeing.
It’s a struggle plaguing many adolescents, part of the process of growing up, however with young males - particularly in the UK - there is a tendency to keep quiet. Last year over 4,500 British males took their own life. In fact suicide is the single biggest killer of men age 20-45, and 75% of all suicides in the UK are male. CALM (The Campaign Against Living Miserably) is a charity organisation seeking to bring about change and getting young males to talk openly and confidently about mental health.
Inspired by its own mission to behave as a leader and its role at the forefront of young male image, Topman in 2017 felt obliged to do something as well. The big challenge was how? How could Topman be true to its roots in image-centred style and fashion whilst empowering open mental health discourse? The second challenge, and big challenge for CALMxTopman’s media and creative partners, lay in garnering scale and reach without a readily available above-the-line media budget.
Men don’t cry. Men are in control, they are meant to be strong. They don’t indulge in mental health discussions. They keep it all inside.
These are the stereotypes our strategy chose to take on whilst overcoming the aforementioned challenges of remaining true to our brand and creating scale without budget. So we decided to begin with an approach clearly rooted in the brand: a buzzy ‘fashion launch’ that would take a cliché and turn it upside down, crashing newsfeeds and shattering the stereotypes. This required strong content, a buzz-worthy protagonist and a lot of free press.
In regards to talent, CALM x Topman set their sights on Chris Hughes, the perfect combination of a trendy fashion star and source of media controversy who had confidently showed his vulnerabilities to the nation on 2017’s Love Island reality series. Envied by men and loved by women, Chris could stand for traditional fashion desire whilst disproving the stereotype and showing that real (and famous) men do cry.
Implementation began by unleashing a controversial and too-good-to-be-true cliché product: L’Eau de Chris - a new innovative mineral water infused with Chris’ own tears exclusively available at Topman.
L’Eau de Chris was launched with a racy newsfeed video shot by renowned photographer Rankin on October 9th. Featuring a buff Chris sporting tight Topman briefs the video immediately triggered social buzz. Leveraging tactical Added Value media locations, the debut was also revealed via digital outdoor in trendy hangout areas like Westfields London and Stratford and across commuter gossip pages with Metro and Shortlist, as well as digital display on their online and mobile platforms. The creative was controversial, tacky and risqué - all leading to immediate traction, fury, rage and tons of buzz.
The next day, on October 10th and World Mental Health Day, the story was set straight. Stationed at Topman’s London headquarters, Chris Hughes opened up via a
L’Eau de Chris was Ludicrous! Men Should never bottle up their feelings.
A second wave of outdoor, digital, wrapped taxis and print was immediately released promoting #DONTBOTTLEITUP while Chris’ now infamous briefs were sold instore to raise money for CALM.