How To

How to market a product nobody wants to talk about

Vancouver underwear startup MyPakage found that the best way to get customers to buy was to get them into a pair

A string bag with a banana and two apples in it

(Photo by Adrian Armstrong; prop styling by Christine Brant, Plutino Group)

Dez Price, co-founder of Canadian underwear brand MyPakage—its patented keyhole system has been described as a “one bedroom apartment for your junk”— reveals the strategy that landed his company’s boxer briefs in 1,000 stores across North America:

1. Let the product do the talking

“We’re trying to make undergarments for men cool. Underwear hasn’t been cool since Marky Mark. So far, the key has been to just get the product on people’s bodies, so 30% of our marketing budget goes to promo product that we give away. Once they’ve tried it, people can’t help but tell others about it. I’ve seen a guy in his mid-40s stand up at a table in Whistler Village, whip his pants down and tell the whole group he’s with that ‘MyPakage are the greatest things I’ve ever put on!’”

2. Be edgy, but not too edgy

“We run a lot of product testimonials in our marketing materials. But now that we’re starting to entertain bigger clients across North America, we can’t be quite as edgy as we were when we first launched. One testimonial we had to retire described MyPakage as something like, ‘a hot female cupping my package.’”

3. Trust your gut—not experts

“When you go into Hudson’s Bay or Dick’s Sporting Goods in the U.S., 99% of the underwear comes in a white package, and it’s got some guy with six-pack abs wearing the product. Our packaging is black and you can reach in and feel the fabric. We’ve had mentors tell us we have to put models on the boxes. It’s hard when you’re talking to the guy who started Joe Boxer and you have to say, ‘No, we’re good.’ We’re just going to do our own thing.”

4. Choose a channel that works

“Print and TV advertising don’t make a lot of sense for us, so we started a program that now lives on Instagram where we challenge people to post photos of themselves doing rad stuff—last year’s winner was a guy flying off a rope swing in his underwear—and give points for doing something awesome and getting a great photo featuring our product. The grand prize winner gets a surf trip to Costa Rica. Showing people doing rad stuff has kind of turned into our whole messaging at this point.”