Jockey Banks on Undies’ Appeal

NEW YORK In a bid to reach a younger, hipper audience, Jockey is launching a pair of Web sites built for viral appeal.

At StopSquirming.com, users can watch videos of a man and woman acting out various uncomfortable underwear situations. They can also send friends a humorous reminder to get new underwear and upload their own video reenactments.

A second site, JockeyUnderwars.com, is set for launch next month. There, visitors will be able to challenge each other, in an NCAA Tournament-style bracket, to top each other with videos of themselves dancing in their underwear.

Jockey hopes the offbeat approach—one “Grundy Grievance” e-mail message features a giant stuffed bear in tighty whities—will communicate to young audiences the message that Jockey has better-fitting underwear. Its prior traditional ad efforts have taken a more straightforward approach to explaining the benefits of various Jockey lines.

“These folks are spending a lot of time online at places like MySpace and YouTube,” said Tim Pitt, vp, global marketing and advertising at Jockey. “It’s a place where people engage. We’re trying to determine whether this type of tactic makes a stronger, more permanent impression with a consumer than seeing an ad in a magazine or a TV spot.”

Both sites are part of a shift that will see Jockey increase its online marketing budget from 6 percent in 2006 to 20 percent this year. Overall, Jockey spent $7 million on domestic advertising last year, per TNS Media Intelligence.

Media choices to promote StopSquirming.com reflect the attention paid to the youth demographic: ads are running on MySpace, YouTube and Clear Channel’s network of radio sites. Jockey is also doing offline marketing skewed to youth audiences, including sponsorship of a music festival in Boston.

But the Jockey sites are mostly banking on viral appeal to find their audience, said Patty McIntosh, Internet marketing manager at the company. “We’re stretching our ad dollars,” she said. “The whole viral aspect of getting people to talk about you and your brand was key for us.”

The tongue-in-cheek approach to talking about underwear follows on the heels of the success Philips saw with a viral strategy to promote its male-grooming product, Bodygroom. ShaveEverywhere.com, a Web site that features a man in a bathrobe explaining how he trims his pubic hair, was spread far and wide with its risque content of the host’s barely bleeped patter.

Jockey execs said they do not want go as far with their viral efforts, only to build some buzz around the humdrum choice of undergarments. It is vigorously screening video submissions to make sure they are all PG-13, Pitt said.

“All touch points are trying to stay good, clean fun,” he said. “It’s a tough choice to make. We’d like to think the consumer is in control, but we have a brand image to protect.”

While ShaveEverywhere.com was credited with lifting sales of the Bodygroom on a budget of under $400,000, Pitt said it is still hard to measure the success of viral efforts. Jockey will seek first to compare how many impressions and their depth with those it would be assured of by using traditional media like magazines and outdoor placements.

“There’s no expectation of ROI for a sale [immediately], but over time as we continue to do this type of thing, we will expect that,” he said. “Right now, it’s very experimental.”