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Lululemon Woos Men With First Campaign

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Lululemon is making good on its promise last month to deliver a new marketing campaign aimed squarely at men. On Thursday, the Vancouver-based sportswear brand is releasing "Strength to Be," which, like the retailer's overarching brand campaign "This Is Yoga," is more-message than product-focused.

"It's an evolution of the same thinking as 'This Is Yoga,'" says Karl Aaker, director of men's brand at 19-year-old Lululemon. "But this is a message directed uniquely at a male audience."

While announcing second-quarter earnings last month, Lululemon CEO Laurent Potdevin noted rising sales and untapped potential in the men's business, one of Lululemon's "best-kept secrets." The company has seen success with its "ABC" (anti-ball-crushing) pants, for example.

The new push is composed of five 30-second digital spots starring men who represent masculinity in different ways. One video stars Orlando Cruz, an Olympian and the first openly gay boxer. Other ads feature surfer Mark Healey, musician John Joseph, rapper Zebra Katz and Ibn Ali Miller, who recently came to fame as a peacemaker after breaking up a fight in Atlantic City.

"Lululemon is showing that emotional strength is as powerful as masculine traits," says Cameron Farrelly, executive creative director at Virtue Worldwide, the Vice Media agency behind the new campaign as well as "This Is Yoga." He adds that the campaign should help shatter misconceptions that Lululemon is a brand solely for women or those with feminine aspirations. "There's a new type of man," says Farrelly, noting the new work also contrasts the stereotypes often perpetuated by sports marketing.

Lululemon more than doubled its annual measured media spending in the U.S. to a still-modest $56,000, according to Kantar Media. Despite the small outlay, it is one of a few sportswear brands bucking the decline in the athleisure market. Last month, it reported a second-quarter revenue uptick of 13 percent to $581.1 million, with same-store and digital sales rising 7%. Along with Virtue, which Lululemon began working with earlier this year, Fetch handled digital production for the new work. The retailer is searching for a replacement for its top marketing executive, Duke Stump, who departs the brand this month.