Jockey is an iconic underwear brand that started in 1934 when the company launched the Jockey Brief. The Jockey Brief was inspired by a postcard from the French Rivera showing a man wearing a bikini style swimsuit. In 1935, the company began selling the Jockey Short in Marshall Fields in Chicago. On the first day, 600 pairs were sold and a legend was born. In 1982, Jockey introduced Jockey Cotton Briefs for women. Today, Jockey is marketed in more than 120 countries. The brand markets underwear, intimate apparel, socks, thermals, sleepwear and activewear. Products are offered for men, women and children. Since 1935, Jockey which is located in Kenosha Wisconsin has been an innovator in the underwear category. Today, Jockey is still a family owned privately held company that values integrity, passion, quality and loyalty.
I had the opportunity to work as the Vice President of Marketing for Jockey in 1999 and 2000. At that time, the underwear and intimate apparel category was very competitive. Brands such as Victoria Secret and Calvin Klein were selling sex appeal. Tommy Hilfiger and Ralph Lauren were marketing a lifestyle image. Traditional brands such as Hanes, Fruit of the Loom and retail store brands were aggressively promoting price. My challenge as the Vice President of Marketing was to develop a long term sustainable position for the brand that would help differentiate it from competition and help generate growth. We asked a lot of questions. What was the brand going to be in the future? Would Jockey become a sports brand? Many people still associated the Jim Palmer ads with Jockey. Michael Jordan at the time was promoting Hanes Underwear. Maybe we just needed a super model.
In search of the answer, I talked to everybody in the company who would give me time. I reviewed all the old ads. I looked at the data to see what products we were selling. I read every email that the company received. We conducted research. I partnered with a fashion magazine that invited readers to share their Jockey story. The answer was simple and obvious. For loyal fans, the brand was about comfort. Yes, physical comfort was important but to the brand’s fans, Jockey was also about emotional comfort. All the company’s efforts were then focused on delivering on this purpose.
The company’s purpose is to “satisfy the human need for comfort”. For the past 12 years, the leadership of Jockey has stayed focused on delivering on that purpose.
What products or brands come to mind when you think about comfort?