18 Aug Did your hero wear Jockey briefs?
It’s one thing to put sports stars in underwear ads. It’s something else to put famous American heroes in them.
Jockey, in an outrageous new ad campaign, is taking the celebrities in skivvies concept to the next level by showing off bona fide American heroes in their briefs. Such as Gen. George Patton. And baseball great Babe Ruth. And, yes, even veteran astronaut and moonwalker Buzz Aldrin.
These names seem a far cry from recent celebrity sports stars — from Michael Jordan to David Beckham to Tim Tebow — who have appeared in men’s underwear advertisements. Of course, it was Baltimore Oriole pitching ace Jim Palmer who was among the first to raise both eyebrows and underwear brand awareness by wearing Jockey briefs in 1970s-era TV spots.
Jockey’s slogan for the new heroes campaign comes with a wink, perhaps a smirk: “Supporting Greatness.”
“We’re in the underwear business, so we can’t take ourselves too seriously,” says Dustin Cohn, chief marketing officer at Jockey International. “We actually know that these great men all wore Jockey.”
For what it’s worth, Aldrin, 84, the second man to walk on the moon, takes special pride about footage of his historical moonwalk being included in the underwear ad. “Everybody wears underwear,” he says, in a phone interview. “I think this commercial is fun — and guaranteed to get a chuckle.”
For Jockey, it’s about trying to stay cool — and appeal to trend-setting Millennials — when designer brands such as Calvin Klein and H&M have tried to corner the market on what’s hip in the $1.1 billion domestic men’s underwear market.
It’s also an attempt actually to appeal to male buyers. For decades, women were the primary buyers of men’s underwear. But with today’s men more fashion conscious — even about their briefs — they now buy about 70% of their underwear, says Cohn.
The national TV spot, which first airs Monday, depicts Ruth clobbering a home run, Patton leading his men to victory and Aldrin walking on the moon — all in Jockeys. Print ads take a similar bent, but show the top half of the real hero’s body combined with the underwear-wearing bottom half of a model stand-in.
The underlying message is arguably powerful, says Allison Cohen, an advertising consultant and owner of PeopleTalk: “If these guys wore Jockey, then we should, too.”
Indeed, they did.
Ruth previously shilled for Jockey during his career. Gen. Patton — and virtually all American soldiers — wore them, as Jockey was a supplier to much of the American military in his time. And Aldrin says that while he didn’t wear them in space — which required special undergarments — he wore them in training, since Jockey also was a supplier to NASA.
He says he still does. “Jockey has been part of my wearing apparel for quite some time,” he says.
Aldrin insists he’s not at all embarrassed about his image showing up in an underwear spot. “I have better pictures in briefer bathing suits than that,” he says.
But the feisty supporter of domestic space programs says he’s especially proud of a non-Jockey brand T-shirt he likes to wear that bears a not-so-subtle message in favor of funding for space exploration: “Get your ass to Mars.”