Not Your Father’s Underwear: Mars Gives Champion An Attitude

Mars Advertising takes a tongue-in-cheek approach in a new print campaign this month for Champion Underwear. Ads feature the new tagline, “Times have changed. Your underwear should change with them.”
The first print ad for the Winston-Salem, N.C.-based company breaks Feb. 10 in Men’s Health and Feb. 16 in In Style. It shows three older men sitting on a bench wearing nothing but their baggy briefs. “Pop-ups” that appear over each of them illustrate their fuddy-duddy attitudes. They say, “Marry your high school sweetheart,” “Stay at one job till you get your gold watch” and, finally, “You can tell we wear Jockey.”
“The thought behind [the campaign] is nobody else in the underwear category was really utilizing humor,” said Melissa Misiak, an account supervisor at Mars in Southfield, Mich. “So we really wanted to do something different.”
The ad is meant to appeal to males aged 18-34 who think of rival Jockey International’s brand as “their father’s underwear,” Misiak said. “We wanted to reinforce that idea in consumers’ minds” while showing that Champion is the alternative, worn by a “younger, hipper generation,” she said.
The brand’s former tagline, “It’s what guys wear,” continues in small type underneath the Champion Underwear logo at the bottom of the ad. Mars has handled advertising for the brand for two years.
Two more print executions will be added in late summer. An increase in ad insertions and an expansion of magazine titles is being considered, Misiak said. Research shows that women account for about half of men’s underwear purchases, which must be considered when the ads are created and the magazine titles chosen, she said.
Champion Underwear, a division of Sara Lee Corp., spent $1 million on advertising through the first 10 months of 1997, according to Competitive Media Reporting.