CAMPAIGNS: WS sells Hanes on PR with big launch of tagless T-shirts

PR Team: Weber Shandwick New York (assisted by Chicago, LA, Miami, and Dallas) and Hanes (Winston-Salem, NC) Campaign: Tagless T-shirts Time Frame: June 2002-ongoing Budget: More than $50,000

PR Team: Weber Shandwick New York (assisted by Chicago, LA, Miami, and Dallas) and Hanes (Winston-Salem, NC) Campaign: Tagless T-shirts Time Frame: June 2002-ongoing Budget: More than $50,000

After an extensive agency search, Hanes (and parent company Sara Lee Branded Apparel) chose Weber Shandwick's New York office to help it launch a new line of tagless men's undershirts. But despite the brand's strong reputation, the company does not often use PR, making it vital that the campaign show its value. Strategy "Our goal was basically to let everyone know that Hanes has a tagless line," says Laura Burrows, director of product PR for Sara Lee. "Our target audience was men because this is obviously a T-shirt for men, but we also wanted to reach out to women because women purchase a significant amount of a family's underwear." Building on Hanes' goal of saturating the market with news of the new line, WS hit on the idea of "retiring" the traditional Hanes T-shirts as the campaign's theme. The WS team then set about creating events in several cities in order to maximize exposure of the concept. "We wanted to introduce this innovation in a high-impact, big-news way," explains WS' Peter Campisi. But, he adds, "we wanted it to be fun." Tactics The centerpiece of the campaign was a large event in New York's Times Square, with Dick Clark and Sara Lee Branded Apparel CEO Cary McMillan. "We basically hosted a retirement party," says Campisi. WS raised a 20-foot-tall T-shirt, complete with oversized tag, which was then cut off by celebrity guests Mr. T and Yogi Berra. Hanes spokesman Michael Jordan made a video for the occasion as well. Similar parties took place simultaneously in LA, Chicago, Miami, and Comfort, TX - where WS arranged for the entire town of 2,300 to take part. WS also sent street teams throughout Manhattan in "Go Tagless" T-shirts, and handed them out to 6,000 taxi drivers as well. Consumers were encouraged by the street teams to strip off their old undershirts and replace them with the new tagless version. Those brave enough to bare their skin on the streets were given a "gold" retirement watch as a prize. To gain the attention of morning and talk shows, WS sent life-size Michael Jordan stand-ups and other tagless paraphernalia to Regis Philbin, Star Jones, David Letterman, Jay Leno, Conan O'Brien, Phil Donahue, Oprah Winfrey, Carson Daly, and others. Topping off the day, WS arranged for McMillan and 15 Hanes employees to ring the closing bell at the NYSE. For those who wanted more information, WS also launched the website, where consumers could enter contests and download coupons. Results "The consumer awareness has been phenomenal," says Burrows of the campaign. "It worked, is the bottom line. This is a category that is very stable. You don't see a lot of fluctuation, but we have seen sales increases in the double digits." Burrows says that those sales increases can be attributed directly to PR, since the rise came after the launch, but before advertising kicked in. The campaign also scored 800 million impressions across 1,500 placements, according to Campisi, including segments on The Wayne Brady Show and Live with Regis and Kelly. "Kelly Ripa went ballistic about it," says Campisi. The website was also a success, with 750,000 consumers visiting to date, 125,000 participating in contests, and 60,000 coupons downloaded. Future "The tagless success story is not over," says Burrows. WS is currently running another phase of the campaign aimed at supporting the recent Super Bowl ad featuring Jordan and Jackie Chan. After that, Burrows says, Hanes' intends to introduce more tagless items in its children's line - complete with PR campaigns.

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