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How One Marketing Campaign Made Jockey Become Relevant Again

Pure Growth’s incredible Everyday Heroes campaign turned Jockey into a relevant, progressive, and iconic clothing brand again.

Among ad agencies, there are very few things that can be as challenging as breathing new life into an aging company. No industry is this more difficult than in fashion, where relevance is everything and every brand needs to prove its innovative mettle to survive.

When award winning creative agency Pure Growth was asked to bring Jockey back into the spotlight, they had their work cut out for them. The Jockey company once struggled to get people talking about it. But, this is now in the past. Jockey has found its relevancy again. How did it happen?

It all had to do with Jockey’s Everyday Heroes campaign. It’s a textbook example of what makes a marketing campaign resonate with audiences—not to mention how much good an advertising campaign can do. 

The Everyday Heroes marketing campaign was incredibly innovative in how it presented spokespeople.

Jockey made major news headlines when they first unveiled the new campaign. Rather than using a famous model or rapper, the Jockey underwear company chose Chris Van Etten, a double amputee who lost his legs during his time in the military.

The initial commercial was followed by other everyday heroes, like Michaela DePrince, a war orphaned ballerina with vitiligo who also penned a New York Times bestseller, and Michael Cottone, an adoptive father.

Every single hero had their own amazing story to tell, and showed both their inner strength and outer physique in the commercial. The end result was a powerful ad campaign that went viral. It gained over 2.2 billion impressions.

At first glance, it seems like a sudden burst of luck (or genius) on the behalf of Jockey. However, things weren’t so simple. 

Why Jockey chose Pure Growth set the stage for the campaign’s success.

Chris Clarke on set directing for Jockey with Professional Golfer, Bubba Watson and Jockey Being Family Program Director, Will Waller.

Pure Growth isn’t your typical advertising agency; it’s one that has an exceptionally in-depth focus on data and creativity. It’s also known for being the project of guerilla advertising guru and digital advertising leader, Chris Clarke, the former Founder and CEO of the multi-billion-dollar ad agency NitroSapient.

Considering Clarke’s knack for changing things up, it’s not surprising that his agency would also have a different approach to marketing than most other industries. Pure Growth’s innovative approach involves blending vast amounts of data with creativity to create marketing campaigns that are optimized for success.

Pure Growth’s use of data would be considered very extreme when compared to traditional ad agencies. For example, Pure Growth uses data from EEG machines, neurolinguistics, as well as traditional forms of data like analytics to help determine a brand’s best course of action. 

The reason why Jockey’s campaign was successful all dealt with the data behind the creativity.

When the company took on Jockey, they quickly pored over the company’s sales, previous marketing campaigns, and past results to see who Jockey’s top customers were. The numbers clearly showed that the company had a strong client base involving military customers.

The agency decided to work on an ad that would resonate with their current customers and their values. What better way to strike a chord with military families than to show heroes? After consulting with cultural anthropologists, Pure Growth set out to find their tribe of Everyday Heroes. 

How they picked their heroes made all the difference.

Jockey’s first everyday hero featured Chris Van Etten, the military veteran. This was done intentionally. It immediately aligned the campaign to their military audience. After Van Etten’s commercial proved successful, Jockey continued to find heroes that had similar values and overcame obstacles that meshed with target audiences.

For example, when they decided to connect with young girls, they chose Michaela DePrince specifically because she’s a ballerina who authored a book, that quickly became a New York Times best selling hit with younger girls. When they wanted to reach out to women working traditional men’s jobs, they reached out to female firefighter Lisa Cusimano. 

It’s clear that the the blend of data and creativity worked wonders for Jockey’s name.

Sure, numbers were definitely involved when it came to making decisions for the company’s ads. However, there’s no denying that there was a serious stroke of creative genius involved with Jockey’s return to relevance.

Think about it. How many companies would think of a double amputee as their underwear model? How many companies would put adoptive fathers on screen, or have people talk about their lives during a fashion commercial? It was a game-changer.

That completely revolutionary concept caught on and became the talk of the fashion world.

Great as the campaign was, you also have to hand it to Jockey.

It takes a lot of bravery to diverge from the normal script in advertising, and it takes a very creative person to find a new way to frame an older company. Pure Growth did it. But they are the first to say Jockey deserves credit as well.

Many, if not most, other companies would have balked at the idea of working with such a daring concept. Fashion is known for being glitzy and glamorous. Choosing to showcase people who aren’t famous models or musicians could have easily backfired.

So, as creative as the campaign was, it takes a special kind of company to be willing to work with it. In its own strange way, Jockey followed their Everyday Heroes’ footsteps by overcoming the obstacles they faced with bravery.

Chief Strategy Officer, Alison Feigen puts it best;

“Jockey is a highly intelligent client and they are also brave...This is a company that leverages its brand to inspire consumers to make the world a better place.”
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