Two years ago, Tommy John went viral when they took on ‘The Big Adjustment’ the move men make to fix uncomfortable underwear. Today, as they release their first products for women, they’re focusing on the little things women do in pursuit of the same relief.
‘Little Adjustments’ is a new integrated campaign by Austin agency Preacher, which has worked with Tommy John since 2015. Across print, OOH and ongoing national TV buys, it highlights all the weird moments – hiding behind bushes, staying behind in the car, closing the elevator door on someone – that women experience as they deal with rampant rolling, bunching and pinching.
"As soon as you ask women about their underwear, the conversation explodes about the lengths they’ve gone to for relief," said Preacher co-founder and CCO Rob Baird. "We realized that women are more discreet – it’s a series of little adjustments. And they’re suffering twice: they’re uncomfortable, and they also wait to find the right moment to deal with it."
Tommy John debuted in 2008, when Tom Patterson and his wife Erin Fujimoto began prototyping what they hoped would be the perfect men’s undershirt (which they eventually patented). The company soon expanded to underwear, socks and loungewear, and have quintupled their business since 2014. They now have 1,000 wholesale points of distribution and are about to open their first retail store, at King of Prussia Mall in Pennsylvania. They are expected to hit $100 million in sales this year for their men’s offerings.
When Preacher came onboard, their job was to create a brand around these products, which already had significant buzz and a loyal following that included celebrities, athletes and multiple investors (among them Kevin Hart, who bought into the company in 2016). ‘Little Adjustments’ had to go the other way: create buzz around a new product from an established, and more importantly trusted, brand. "The men’s product has been described as life-changing, so we felt a lot of pressure to make sure the women’s line would be received in the same way," Baird says.
R&D for the line, under Fujimoto’s direction, had been extensive, and it continued during campaign development: from start to finish, the women on Preacher’s team wore every item. "In real-time, we could check ourselves on whether the underwear was really solving what we were showing in the commercial," says Baird. Preacher went out of its way to assign as many roles as possible on the campaign to women – "We felt like it made sense to give them that opportunity," Baird says – from copywriters up to the commercial’s director, Elizabeth Banks.
She was Preacher’s first choice for the job and signed on after the first call. Baird says that she helped them strike the perfect sorry-not-sorry tone for the spot: women feel like they have to apologize, but they also know they shouldn’t have to. "The underwear issues showcased in each scene is something we, as women, have all had to deal with in some shape or form," said Banks in a statement. "I wanted to capture that collective sense of empathy throughout the film while still making each scenario as funny and compelling as possible."
Rather than growing the line product by product, as Tommy John did with its men’s products, the women’s lineup is dropping in quick succession. Seven underwear styles and a camisole, in two fabric weights, arrive today. Next month adds loungewear and athleisure apparel. The line enters a crowded market worth over $110 billion and will compete with other comfort-focused labels like Hanes, MeUndies and Lively.
But, says Baird, Tommy John has an advantage – and not just among women whose partners already wear the brand. "What makes it different is that it’s about function," he says. "They’re not treating it as any different than the men’s. The idea of no adjustment needed is universal and unisex."