2018 Winner




BronzeEvolution Strategy: Keeping it Fresh

BronzeNiche Strategy

Excess weight and obesity affect a staggering number of Canadians. Whether the causes for their weight are physiological, mental or both, the impact is both debilitating and common. Affected by social stigma and surrounded by a world that judges them harshly, many plus-
sized individuals struggle with low self-esteem. They are constantly reminded that their weight is the centre of attention and feel that their size portrays them in a negative light.

Penningtons’ goal and passion has always been to offer clothing to plus-sized women — 30 to 55-year-olds who want to be stylish, but who have limited options — that helps them look and feel their best. So the company was discouraged when it saw its clients continuously stigmatized due to their weight.

Penningtons set out to find a way to support these women in a sustainable and meaningful way. How could it empower its clients beyond its product and store experience? The brand took action, with a determined goal: to break the social stigma surrounding plus-sized Canadians.

Many brands speak out against body discrimination, but they focus on social acceptance of plus-sized (size 14 and up) fashion models; ironic, considering the average Canadian woman is size 14. Penningtons aimed to venture beyond the fashion model discourse. The first task was to understand the origins of fat shaming. It was found to be a defence mechanism, the rejection of a trait in others that a person would never accept in themselves. While fat shaming may make that person feel better, it can destroy the self-esteem of the other. The team then dissected medical documents and analyzed discussions with psychologists, sociologists and anthropologists. It was discovered that humans are born with a preprogrammed weight, and no matter what they do to attain a weight they see as ideal, their body will fight it.

The next step was to examine the social aspect of body weight. For centuries, excess weight was seen as a symbol of wealth, respect and prosperity: Food was scarce, so the wealthy were identified by their size. Today, the reverse is true; thinness has become associated with success. This demonstrates the social codes of the “ideal” that society has created for itself. Frequently judged and criticized, plus-sized individuals are often perceived as couch potatoes who live on junk food. To break the cycle of judgement, the team began by trying to raise awareness about the self-esteem-crushing effects of judgmental words, gestures, looks and thoughts.

Awareness is the first step in becoming conscious of one’s hurtful and negative judgements about others, and is the gateway to sustainable, empathetic transformation. To encourage reflection in fat shamers, a fat-shaming conversation had to be sparked. Inspired by online conversations revealing a widespread prejudice that plus-sized women are overweight because they are inactive, the 2016 offensive took the form of a game-changing yoga video. The attention-grabbing hook “Why plus-size women shouldn’t do yoga” was used as an ironic prelude to a video featuring a badass plus-sized yogi who destroys the prejudice pose by pose, signed with the hashtag #iwontcompromise. No fashion message was promoted in the video.

In 2017, a second social awareness video, signed with the #iwontcompromise hashtag, was launched. In “Runner,” viewers hear the voice of a seasoned triathlete and half-marathoner, and
see a runner who matches society’s typical “fit” image. At the last second, she drops away and the true owner of the voice — Jill Angie, the plus-sized athlete running behind her — is revealed.

In 2018, a product-focused campaign was finally launched. It promoted d/C JEANS,
Penningtons’ plus-size denim collection, and featured the same #iwontcompromise hashtag.

Despite there being no sales objectives set for the 2016 awareness campaign, Penningtons’ activewear collection sold out and generated 3:1 ROI, achieving total sales of +39% (January) and +25% (February) and a total reach of 30M people, 18.6M views and 2M engagements. Brand awareness goal achieved. The video demonstrated a 70% organic presence and 23% view rate. In 2018, in-store sales of d/C JEANS collection were up 31%, online denim sales up 86%, storewide sales up 5%, and new customers up 23%.

Client: Penningtons – Ginette Harnois, Jacqueline Stein-Elman
Agency: lg2
Vice-President, Creative Director: François Sauvé
Copywriter: Marie-Ève Leclerc-Dion
Art Director: Valérie Wells
Partner, Vice-President, Strategy and Innovation: Anne-Marie Leclair
Vice-President, Account Services: Julie Pilon
Account Manager: Nicolas Girault
Director: Patrick Boivin
Director of Photography: Gabriel Brault-Tardif
Production: BLVD – Alexandre Villeneuve
Agency Producer: Valérie Lapointe
3D Animation and Post-Production: BLVD
Music: Circonflex, BLVD
Sound and Engineering: BLVD – Sylvain Roux, Denis-Éric Pedneault
Medias: Touché!, OMD

For registration inquiries, please contact Ben Soldinger at bsoldinger@brunico.com.
For partnership inquiries, please contact Neil Ewen at newen@brunico.com.