Everybody ignores advertising. No surprise there. But a devious new campaign from Fruit of the Loom and agency CP+B has been capitalizing on just that fact, hiding thousands of dollars of cash—along with more than a few pairs of free underwear—in (relatively) plain sight around one of the world’s biggest cities.
A new reality-style video from the brand captures the early portions of the campaign in action. The team stashed mini treasure troves—stacks of greenbacks each totaling $1,851 (representing the year the brand was founded) and bundled with fresh skivvies—in various locations around New York City. There was a tiny red door outside a popular ice cream shop. There was a lock-box with a tiny inflatable tube man dancing on top.
There was a tourist viewfinder — binoculars mounted on a metal stand — pointed at a brick wall. Each one contained instructions for finding the associated treasure—or simply contained the cash itself, stowed away and ready for anybody who stopped long enough to take notice.
They’re all part of a clever effort to emphasize a new line of underpants that’s so comfortable and lightweight, Fruit of the Loom claims, people won’t even realize they’re wearing underpants at all. Similarly, the brand guessed, people wouldn’t notice ads subtly touting big piles of money.
And speaking of those big piles of money—there might still be a few more out there, waiting to be found.
“Depending on how you count them, there are at least 11 different installations/experiences,” says Shannon Gibney, an associate creative director at CP+B who worked on the campaign. “We can’t divulge how many have yet to be found, but we anticipate the campaign running through the summer.”
Also among the ads? A sequence of consecutive outdoor posters with a deadpan five-word headline and a heaping of the type of fine print that would make anybody’s eyes glaze over. For those intrepid readers willing to stick with it, the aggressively technical writing soon gives way to an absurd rambling pitch about sunrises and yapping dogs, and eventually, a clue.
“It’s certainly not like you can just pull back the corners of every tiny little x you may or may not have noticed on this poster and find a whole lotta hundred-dollar bills waiting for you,” says the text. “No, finding all the incredible stuff we’ve put throughout this city for people to notice is going to take some pretty serious noticing from a pretty serious noticer. Someone who can notice something intentionally designed to not be noticed, like our all-new Fruit of the Loom® EverLight™ underwear.”
At least six of the installations have been cashed out so far—the long-form poster described above, as well as a number of the others portrayed in the video: the tiny door, the tiny dancing tube man, the tourist view scope, a hollowed-out poster inviting viewers to punch through it, and a poster featuring just a QR code (that ultimate visual turn-off, essentially designed for people to shut it out). “But some of those will run more than once in different locations,” says Gibney. “We’d like to tell you that we’d like to tell you which ones, but we [wouldn’t] really.”
The agency is being equally coy about whether remaining executions—at least five of them—contain more cash for would-be treasure hunters. “We’re not saying there is or is not more stuff for the people who notice to redeem, we’re saying there are more ads out there and we’re curious to see what happens.”
The remaining ads include a fake ad for one “Eva Lighte”—a Realtor you can trust—that will run in multiple buses (a mockup pictured below shows a version of the ad in a bus shelter). There’s also a small-space print ad, a social post, another poster, and a newspaper classified for a dot matrix printer in “mint condition” with all of the buttons missing—and a different kind of prize: a car.
While “each of the installations in the video were packed with $1,851 in cash,” says Gibney, “some of the other rewards are harder to place a value on, like a late model used Toyota. The cash was never really meant to be a true reward; they were more like incentives to inspire unknowing participants to take part in our experiment. How do you know someone truly noticed an ad unless they punch a hole in it per the instructions?”
A website, meanwhile, offers smaller, hard-to-see prizes—a compliment in 3-point font, a nearly imperceptible six-point GIF, a coupon for underwear—to extra-attentive viewers.
For the real-world executions, “the hardest part was making sure each installation and experience was unique,” says Gibney. “In some cases, we gave people the tools to look for the cash and underwear, like [the] viewing-scope pointed at a big brick wall with instructions inside it. In others, we were more ambiguous; just a bunch of cash and underwear waiting behind a weird little door without any instructions.”
“Each piece of the campaign needed to be both intriguing and ignorable at the same time,” adds Gibney. “It was a blast to come up with it all, but the balance took some work.”
And as ridiculous as the whole conceit is, it’s a surprisingly good fit for the brief(s).
“It all stemmed from the product,” says Gibney. “Fruit of the Loom’s new EverLight underwear was designed to be so light you don’t even notice you’re wearing it. So, It seemed natural to design an ad campaign that would be just as unnoticeable. It counterintuitive to everything we’ve ever been taught about advertising, which got us pretty excited.”
Read the full copy from the long-form poster below.
“In accordance with City Ordinance 87.282B, hereafter referred to as CO 87.282B, previously annotated as CO 87 prior to Judicial Ruling 14.04 as mandated by Session 62 of Bufford County Municipality, all marketing materials presented for gain of monetary and/or social capital, as defined by KBK’s Best Practices Manual IV, will hereafter prescribe action and outcome relative to said marketing materials’ relationship to participatory participants, with participatory participants defined exclusively as the person or persons participating or interacting with said marketing materials, also known as you. That’s right. You. Someone who clearly likes to notice things. Sunrises, patterns in the clouds, the way your neighbor’s voice pitches up when talking to her Yorkshire Terrier, and weird-but-well-written posters on city walls. That’s good. Is it a sometimes-awkward skill that leads to always-awkward comments like “I couldn’t help but notice you’re wearing new perfume”? Of course it is. But we’re not judging you. Quite the opposite. We’re agreeing with you. Catering to you. Making underwear for you. Underwear like our all-new Fruit of the Loom® EverLight™ underwear. This unbelievably light material is so light, even you won’t notice it. Who knows underwear better than Fruit of the Loom®? Nobody. People everywhere are gonna lose their minds over it, but no one more so than people who take notice of things people don’t notice. “Wait a second,” you’re thinking. “I think I’m pretty good at noticing. Don’t you think I’d notice underwear, no matter how light?” you’re thinking. “No,” we’re thinking. In fact, we’re so thinking you won’t notice all-new EverLight™ underwear, we’ve stuck a pair of it somewhere in this city with $1,851. Actually, we’ve stuck lots of pairs of it with lots of $1,851s. Why $1,851? That’s not the point. The point is it’s out there, hiding in plain sight somewhere super obvious in this fine city, just waiting for someone to notice it. Sure, it sounds easy. Like telling the difference between old perfume and new perfume. But we gotta warn you, it’s not as easy as telling the difference between old perfume and new perfume. It’s certainly not like you can just pull back the corners of every tiny little x you may or may not have noticed on this poster and find a whole lotta hundred-dollar bills waiting for you. No, finding all the incredible stuff we’ve put throughout this city for people to notice is going to take some pretty serious noticing from a pretty serious noticer. Someone who can notice something intentionally designed to not be noticed, like our all-new Fruit of the Loom® EverLight™ underwear. Someone like you, and best-case scenario you have a ridiculous amount of followers on social media so when someone like you does find the underwear wrapped around a bunch of money, lots of people hear about it.”