Creative: Brief Exposure

Grey Advertising Keeps Pants Dropping for Jockey International
Ever since Grey Advertising convinced five buff L.A. doctors to pose with their scrubs around their ankles last year, the New York shop has been deluged with calls from lawyers, dancers and others eager to pose for a Jockey underwear ad.
The latest groups to grin and bare it: Dallas firefighters and New York florists. “I was really nervous,” admits Glen Gibson, a 32-year-old fireman appearing in a Jockey ad this month. “But the crew was very easy to deal with–and it helped that I wasn’t the only one in my underwear.”
Those who have dropped their drawers for the $10-12 million campaign include Wall Street women, professional snowboarders, Broadway actors, Wild West cowgirls and ABC soap opera stars (coming to a Times Square billboard in May).
“The campaign has successfully positioned the brand in a more youthful, relevant way and is extending consumer awareness beyond [seeing Jockey as] just white underwear,” says Mark Hogan, vice president of marketing and advertising, who won’t reveal sales figures.
Hired by the Kenosha, Wis.-based client in fall 1997, Grey looked to the competition for ideas about what not to do. The agency found that other underwear brands emphasized the allure of the unattainable, such as Christy Turlington in somber black and white for Calvin Klein and supermodel “angels” for Victoria’s Secret.
“We just said, ‘Let’s go out there and do the exact opposite,'” says creative director Ron Castillo. “Let’s do color. Let’s do real people as opposed to models. Let’s have a sense of humor. Everybody else takes themselves so seriously. Underwear is fun. It’s not brain surgery.”
To find “real” people who will “let ’em know your Jockey,” Grey turned to casting agencies that specialize in finding hidden talent. Those companies scout industry-specific bars and gyms or ask companies to suggest attractive employees.
“It’s becoming easier,” says Castillo, “now that the campaign has gotten notoriety, people know it’ll be in good taste, it’ll have a sense of humor and we’re going to make them look good.”
Though photographers Mark Seliger, who shot the ads in 1998, and Michael O’Neill, who worked on this year’s series, aim to capture the perfect image in one try, photos of three or four models are often taken separately and later compiled, thus allowing the agency to produce an ad in which the models and products look their best.
In an effort to keep images fresh, different professionals and various combinations of outfits and props are used. “The soap opera women were a challenge because the outfits they wear don’t really tell you what they do,” says Castillo. “So we posed them around a bunch of retro TV sets.”
With an abundant supply of professions and pop culture references to tap, the future of the campaign appears limitless. “It could run for years,” Castillo says.