Cause + Action: Stanfield’s exposes below-the-waist cancer

The underwear company challenged one man to hitchhike across the country wearing nothing but its underwear in the dead of winter to raise awareness for testicular cancer.
Gitchhiker2

Inspiration

Stanfield’s is a small Canadian underwear company that’s been in business for 150 years. Prior to its “Guy at Home in his Underwear” social media campaign in 2010 (which raised over $52,000 for testicular cancer research and was one of the 2011 Cause + Action winners), the brand had little to no support, and most young men saw it as their dad’s underwear brand (or worse, their grandfather’s).

The brand wanted to build on previous efforts, become emotionally relevant to a younger audience, and subsequently position itself as the ultimate Canadian underwear brand – all on a modest $200,000 budget.

Strategy

In November 2012, Stanfield’s worked with Toronto-based John St. to create a program that challenged one man to hitchhike across the country to the company’s flagship factory, wearing nothing but the brand’s underwear in the dead of winter.

Stanfield’s promised that if he could get there within 21 days, it would donate $20,000 to support men’s below-the-waist cancer research, a pledge that fit perfectly with the brand’s motto, “We Support Men.”

Execution

Stanfield’s challenged the first-ever “Gitchhiker” – testicular cancer survivor Mark McIntyre – to travel across Canada for the Canadian Cancer Society. His job was to raise awareness and support for the non-profit by handing out free underwear (featuring the thumbs-up hitchhiking sign) as he travelled across Canada.

A Facebook app allowed fans to follow every aspect of this journey, including his location, the temperature where he was travelling and what underwear he was wearing. Fans could also help support his efforts by giving him gifts, submitting dares or even signing up to give him a ride to his next destination. The Gitchhiker was given complete control of the brand’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, where he posted pictures, videos and even pleas for help when he couldn’t find a ride.

Results

Within 21 days, the Gitchhiker campaign raised a total of $32,398 for the Canadian Cancer Society – a combination of Stanfield’s contribution (which it increased to $27,000) and fan donations along the way.

With no paid advertising to support it, the campaign generated more than 43 million media impressions, with the Gitchhiker completing 64 separate interviews on television and radio programs, including several segments on CBC and CTV national news. In addition, underwear sales increased by 50% during the campaign, and Facebook fans grew by 500%.

Judges’ comments

“This was so unique and so Canadian in that it involved the whole country through the documented journey [across] Canada, but it also relied on the generosity of Canadians to involve themselves by giving a ride to a complete stranger dressed somewhat questionably. The campaign brought a ton of attention to a disease needing support, but was also linked to the brand in a clever, fun way.”
- Sybil Taylor, Steam Whistle brewing

“The ability to use a cancer survivor wearing the brand’s products at the same time as engaging the audience in real-time was very smart. It allowed the brand to build sales by changing the perception of their product and engage a new target market through social media.”
- James Connell, Roots

Jump to:

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Judging panel