DDB Influences 2.16

Welcome back to a fresh edition of DDB Influences!

We’ll be kicking off this edition by unravelling Millennial’s seemingly endless obsession with health and wellness and see what brands beyond the apparel category can learn from the booming global athleisure business.

We will also take a closer look at how feminism is taking new expressions in the media and see what brand owners and marketers can learn from successful femvertising cases.

March 2016

This edition’s topics:

  1. Has it ever been more fashionable to be fit? What do Kanye West, American yoga pants and fitcations have in common? In Millennials hunt for more health, wellness and fitness the booming athleisure trend offers brand owners beyond the apparel category opportunities to add value to people’s lives — find out how.
  2. The F-word: feminism is no longer connected to the stereotypical hairy armpits or man-haters. We are seeing more examples of brands and companies adopting a more modern type of feminsim — where femvertising can be an active force in the discussion. But how does it work?

1. Has it ever been more fashionable to be fit?

Driven by the obsession for more health and wellness and the increased need to digitally show off their fitness triumphs, Millennials are making fitness into a whole way of life. In fashion, the buzzword spells “athleisure” — the combination between athletic and leisure wear, taking it out of the gym and into the streets. This is the reason why your local fashion boutique suddenly stocks 265 Euro Alexander Wang sweatpants, why yoga tights are the new status symbol or why Kanye West is making sneakers the next hard-to-get “it”-item.

What’s the influence?

Not only is there a tremendous business opportunity for the apparel industry here — all brand owners have a chance to gain relevance. With almost 8 out of 10 Millennials saying it’s important for brands to incorporate wellness as part of their core mission, we need to think about how we can help consumers lead healthier, more active lifestyles not just with our products — but mainly through our brand experiences.

Fusing fashion with function: a recipe for success

Athleisure defines the trend in which functional fitness clothing originally designed for workouts is worn outside the gym context as lifestyle wear. Spearheaded by yoga lifestyle brand lululemon in the US and originally a domain for more expensive designer names, today most mainstream brands like H&M, Topshop and The Gap are countering with their own activewear product ranges.

Continuing to dress down in 2016

“Sweatpants are a sign of defeat. You lost control of your life so you bought some sweatpants.” (Karl Lagerfeld).

Despite the quote from Karl Lagerfeld and although some experts predicted the athleisure trend to wear off in 2015, 2016 shows no sign of slowing down. Today it’s one of the top 10 spending categories for Millennials that grew by 13% last year and is even threatening the US jeans business’ bottom line. Karl and his friends must be seriously unhappy.

The new social status: a healthy active lifestyle

Of course athleisure goes well beyond just the world of fashion. Leading a healthy and active lifestyle is not just about physical wellbeing — it’s the ultimate symbol of social status in the world of instagram and snapchat. Millennials are the ones most likely to pay a premium for health attributes with 80% investing one fourth of their income on health and wellness.

The gym as a lifestyle meeting place

“The gym is the new place to be seen. It’s the new night out. Forget clubs, people want to know what cool class you went to, what gym you go to, the juices you drink and the different types of nut milks you make. […]” (Carys Williams, Worth Global Style Network)

With Millennials representing almost 50% of all gym-goers the whole fitness experience is being reinvented as gym chains are working hard on inventing more lifestyle oriented, entertaining, interactive and social ways to stay fit. Fitness is no longer a painful event for disciplined athletes — it’s Sunday afternoon happening for everyone and a new way to meet people and partners.

From booze cruises to fitcations

With more young adults turning their back on alcohol, people are looking for new and healthy ways to have unique, life changing experiences. Instead of gulping down buckets at full moon parties in Thailand many now choose to go on holidays without the hangover. “Fitcation” is one of the fastest growing travel trends within the booming global health and fitness market — currently growing at a faster rate than tourism in general.

What’s in it for us? Brands as wellness advocates

In a marketing context where brands have to play more meaningful roles in order to stay relevant, the athleisure trend offers brand owners new opportunites to add value to people’s lives.

Digital coaching powered by Watson: Under Armour and HTC Healthbox

January saw the launch of Under Armour and HTC’s Healthbox: a personal exercise kit that aggregates fitness, sleep and nutrition management within one interface. It includes a smart watch, a sleep tracker, a heart rate monitor and a connected scale and the UA app itself uses IBM Watson technology to analyse behavioural and performance data.

Making a statement: drinking less to be cool

Inspired by a study of 5000 beer drinkers aged 21–35, Heineken makes a Millennial health statement in their latest responsible drinking campaign: the new cool lies in lasting through the night — not falling of your bar stool.

Paying in calories: H&M fitness events

H&M hosted a series of fitness events in Warsaw where consumers could participate to win sports apparel based on how many calories they burnt. They could attend boxing classes or workout sessions free of charge, exchanging their calories for apparel, e.g. a pair of shorts costed 400 calories.

Combining luxury with Marathon: Mandarin Oriental

The Mandarin Oriental in Barcelona recently unveiled two luxury programs for people running the Barcelona Marathon. One package includes three night’s accommodation, personalized coaching, a running t-shirt, and two spa treatments. The “Get Ready” program includes a five-day training plan designed in collaboration with a local sports medicine clinic. Prices start at EUR 2,025.


Oskar Valdre // Senior Strategic Planner, DDB Germany

2. The F-Word

Feminism has lost its tarnished image — thanks to women like Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, Lena Dunham and Caitlin Moran; this new fourth wave of feminism is washing away the old image of the cheerless man-hater — a stereotype that still comes to mind of those living in the past when many hear the F-word. But even though a lot of signs show feminization is becoming a mega trend, mainstream still seems to fear the change.

What‘s the influence?
An average person has about 1.000 contacts with advertising per day. So we see more people through advertisements than we see in real life. The recipients of media are shown a “reality” — a better one. So it's important that advertisements portray diverse lifestyles to a broad mainstream audience.

In the last two years a lot has happened in this area. When it comes to femvertising, the North America and the UK are more than one step ahead. In terms of attention, they have successfully produced a few femvertising campaigns. How did they do this? There are three behaviours that help in changing female imagery and perception in advertising.

  1. Finding a surprising insight.

Bringing attention to the fact that men and women are still unequal in certain areas is one first step. Advertisers use surprising insights to shine a light on women’s issues. Like P&G’s campaign #sorrynotsorry for the hair care brand Pantene or the popular campaign #likeagirl from the feminine hygiene brand Always.

2. Teaming up with with popular women.

One good example for finding the right person for your campaign is the UN initiative #heforshe, who won Emma Watson as a spokesperson. A smart woman that probably wasn’t the first one to come to mind when thinking of a feminist. With Emma Watson’s support, the campaign was a hot topic in the tabloids as well as in serious newspapers.

Elle UK went further, setting up three feminist activist groups with three advertising agencies in order to facilitate a “rebranding.”

One part of the campaign showed famous people wearing shirts with the slogan “This is what a feminist looks like” — a surprising “confession” for the most part. The aim of the campaign was to combat the stigmatisation of feminists and refute such well-worn stereotypes as feminists hating men, looking masculine and that men can’t be feminists. Thanks to these famous spokespeople, the initiative’s message was sure to reach the press and mainstream society: Being a feminist can be cool!

In addition to the powerful visuals of the t-shirt campaign, they produced a video addressing the fact that women in powerful positions are rare. They photoshopped all men out of footage of political conferences — leaving only one or two women.

3. Changing old and established brand traditions.

Another institution that showed a huge change in 2015 was the Pirelli Calendar. For the first time, it focused on woman and girls that are not only beautiful, but strong and influential in the worlds of business, music, the arts, sports or entertainment. They all have something in common, they are inspiring — for women just the same as for men.

Feminism as a movement is powerful because it is a threat to existing systems of power — systems that privilege others. Introducing new — cool — ideas of equality into the mainstream is one way advertising can help shape society.


Sabine Brockmann // Senior Strategic Planner, DDB Germany

Published by the Planning department of DDB Germany.

Concept by Oskar Valdre, Sven Grammes & Nina Rieke.

Sign up to stay up to date and receive bite-sized information on how the world evolves and how people behave:

Want more insights? Don’t hesitate to contact us:

Laura Maroldt, Laura.Maroldt@de.ddb.com // Head of Corporate Communications

Like what you read? Give DDB Influences a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.