Cannes Lions


SELMORE, Amsterdam / VAN GILS / 2009

Presentation Image
Presentation Image






Van Gils is a once famous Dutch men’s fashion brand. In the eighties it was bigger than Hugo Boss but since then it had practically dropped out of the market. Our challenge was to bring it back.Based on the simple and irrefutable insight: “The clothes make the man” we decided to see if the same could hold true for a mannequin. Our goal was two-fold. Firstly we wanted to create a buzz about Van Gils again. Secondly we wanted to effectively create our own celebrity product endorser – a cheaper and more reliable version of Brad Pitt!With the help of SFX studio, Unreal, we designed a custom fit, latex mask for our actor to wear. Then we let him loose on the general public. The “White Masked Man” created a wave of publicity across the globe by turning up at a series of exclusive red carpet events with famous female celebrities, including Pamela Anderson. No one knew who or what he was.To further fuel the mystery we planted a series of rumours – most famously that he was Michael Jackson (rumoured to be dating Pamela at the time).By the time of the reveal, the campaign had yielded a PR value of 4 million Euros.


In order to co-ordinate such a complex project, we got together with a brand activation and events specialists agency. We also employed a number of PR specialists, seeders and stringers in each country to insure we got into the right media.The mannequin made its main appearance at London Fashion Week, accompanied by Pamela Anderson. We fuelled the publicity that followed by releasing the rumour that the man in the mask was in fact Michael Jackson. Then we released further pictures of him with Miss Belgium at the Grand Prix. Now everyone was talking about the “White Masked Man”.Over the following days he was spotted in 3 more cities, with famous female celebrities: Susan K in Copenhagen, Carolina Gynning in Stockholm and finally with Dutch Playmate Lieke van Lexmond at the Dutch Film Awards.


Within a month, the campaign had yielded a PR spin-off worth 4 million Euros, spread over 20 countries and approximately 265 articles.Within 3 weeks of the reveal, the website had received unique visitors from 103 countries.In just 2 months Van Gils had risen from nowhere to take the number 2 position in the Netherlands (its main market) regarding aided and unaided awareness.

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