I was recently able to experience an interesting campaign that paired two companies that you would not immediately think of together. The partnership between Hanes and JetBlue. Now call me weird but when I think of underwear I don’t immediately jump to airlines as the most likely partner.
Before I continue – the disclosure: Since 2009 I have been part of the Hanes Comfort Crew, a panel of Social Media advocates and advisors. However, they do not in anyway pay for content. They do make opportunities available to the Comfort Crew and we are free to use our discretion as to whether we accept them or not. This post was not requested or paid for.
What I liked about this was precisely that. The pairing was unexpected. This is smart marketing. The instinct to reach for the most obvious partner or association in what we perceive to be the mind of the consumer is the downfall of many marketers. I am a big fan, for example of the work of David & Goliath, the agency behind the Kia commercials. After all who puts a full size Sock Monkey on a mechanical bull as a way of selling suv’s to soccer mom’s?
So what was the idea with Hanes and JetBlue? Actually they hit upon one of the things that passengers are most concerned about, Comfort. Both brands are very focused on comfort. Hanes from a wearable perspective, JetBlue from a traveling perspective. They partnered up to try and bring comfort to the passengers of the early morning east bound flights in the US. The red-eye or Shut-eye as JetBlue calls it is certainly a place where passengers seek comfort.
I traveled from Denver to New York City on a JetBlue flight which departed from Denver at 00.50 (for those that don’t do military time, that’s ten minutes to 1am). The gate was surprisingly busy with a lot of people catching a few more minutes of sleep laying on the floor, slumped in seats, or sitting against pillars. If ever a bunch of people needed comfort this was it. As fate would have it, I was greeted at the gate by none other than Molly Lynn who is not only a great crew member for Jet Blue but a Social Media maven in her own right. She had been “warned” I was coming and that I’d be taking pictures & possibly video.
Warning or not Molly treated every passenger extremely well, again something that everyone flying at that ungodly hour wants. At boarding time, the passengers were advised that on boarding they were welcome to take a free Hanes t-shirt. This tied in with commercials that Hanes had been running both online and on TV for their new T-shirts with a no roll collar. Again part of the comfort angle. For this to really work it would have been better if each passenger had been handed a T-shirt at their seat, but as I later found out, that many t-shirts in boxes would have been way too much weight for the aircraft to carry around.
Some of the passengers didn’t take a t-shirt, especially those who were obviously headed to a business meeting at the end of their flight, others simply eyed them suspiciously as though heeding the security announcement that they shouldn’t take things onboard from people they didn’t know. The people that did take them were the ones you would expect to take freebies, kids, student aged travelers etc.
Overall this campaign gets my Smart Marketing nod because of the unique pairing. The execution was very difficult because of the physical limitations but for a company as traditional as Hanes to try new and innovative things is a great sign. For all of its buzz, Social Media will only take you so far. Getting closer to the customer in the real world should always be a part of a Smart Marketing campaign and not reaching for the obvious is definitely the way to make things memorable.
What Smart Marketing have you seen lately?
Image used under Creative Commons License by HowNowDesign