First of all, a lesson in Canadian colloquial English:
Ginch/gonch/gitch/gotch: underwear (usually men’s or boys’ underwear, more specifically briefs; whereas women’s underwear are gotchies), probably of Eastern European or Ukrainian origin. Gitch and gotch are primarily used in Saskatchewan and Manitoba while the variants with an n are common in Alberta and British Columbia
The “Gitchhiker” is Mark McIntyre, a testicular cancer survivor. He is hitchhiking from Vancouver, British Columbia (on the Pacific coast) to Truro, Nova Scotia, clad only in underwear. But it’s not any destination, or any old underwear: Truro is home to Stanfield’s, a classic Canadian underwear brand. When Mr McIntyre arrives at their factory, Stanfield’s will give an additional $20,000 to the Canadian Cancer Society for “below-the-waist” (testicular, colorectal and prostate) cancer research. The campaign also asks Canadians for donations along the way.
This is a sequel to the immensely popular “Guy at Home in his Underwear” campaign from 2010, in which Mark McIntyre spent an entire month trapped in a web-cam equipped house wearing only Stanfield’s underwear. That effort raised over $50 for the Canadian Cancer Society.
This year’s campaign is based on Facebook, with an elaborate campaign page that allows fans to offer Mr. McIntyre a ride, sponsor his backup ride, the “gitchmobile”, dare him to do something stupid, or provide him with helpful gifts on the road (did they get that last idea from The Hunger Games?). The Facebook page also allows people to follow the journey through updates, photos and video.
Also, like the “at home” campaign, each day features a different set of Stanfield’s underwear for men, which is offered at a special price for the day at Stanfield’s online store.
Since 2010, I have been using Stanfield’s as an example of great fundraising partnerships between private sector and not-for-profit brands. And this latest campaign tells me that they are still a leader at this. While the cause is great, the product positioning and pure fun of the campaign are what really impress me. I wish more companies would use their corporate social responsibility budgets for campaigns like this, which must provide impressive return on investment for everyone involved.