Olympian Orlando Cruz and rapper Zebra Katz star in Lululemon’s first global campaign targeting men, which examines the concepts of masculinity and strength
By Christopher Turner
Lululemon is exploring themes of masculinity and strength in a series of short films as part of the brand’s first global men’s campaign. The athletic apparel company for women and men’s ‘Strength to Be’ new ad campaign aims to celebrate the growing community of men around the world who are challenging the tired, traditional stereotypes of masculinity in positive ways.
‘Strength to Be’ features a series of five short films featuring five different men sharing their ideas on what really makes a real man.
Orlando Cruz, for example, stars in one of the videos. The boxer, who represented Puerto Rico in the 2000 Olympics, made headlines around the world when he issued a press release on October 3, 2012 announcing that he was gay. Cruz became the first boxer to come out while still fighting professionally and today he is still deeply embedded in two worlds — boxing and Puerto Rico — that are founded in machismo. In the video Cruz reflects on remaining silent for years.
A second spot features Zebra Katz, an openly gay hip hop artist whose best known for his 2012 single “Ima Read.” The New York City-based artist is part of a wave of queer hip hop artists who emerged in the 2010s, who were heavily influenced and inspired by voguing and ball culture.
Professional surfer and environmental activist Mark Healey, musician and triathlete John Joseph and social justice speaker Ibn Ali Miller appear in the three other campaign videos.
“While each of these stories is unique, they all perfectly capture the theme of the campaign—which is really about finding the confidence to be true to you,” Lululemon men’s brand director Karl Aaker told Adweek.
“As we focus more on men and male culture, we believe there’s an opportunity to support this ever-growing conversation and empower people to blaze their own trail, rather than conform to traditional stereotypes and archetypes,” he added. “With our heritage in yoga and its core philosophy, we are uniquely positioned to play a role in this important and progressive topic.”
Of course, Lululemon has been selling apparel to men for years, but it’s ‘Strength to Be’ campaign, which celebrates the launch of the brand’s new menswear collection, definitely helps shake things up. By exploring the evolving definitions of masculinity and highlighting two men from the LGBTQ community that are breaking the mold of what it means to be a man in traditionally hyper-masculine worlds, Lululemon is helping to bring a much needed conversation to the masses.
By sharing the stories of how these five different men found the strength to be themselves, Lululemon is effectively spreading a pretty important message: there is no one way — or wrong way —to be a man in today’s world. That’s a message we should all be standing behind.