'RompHim' Laughs All the Way to the Bank
It’s a trick question, because they all are — but the first two are for men, and they’re new products that out-ironic social media users. The third is for babies with new little brothers. These garments aren’t to be confused with “adult onesies,” which are for sale at Macy’s.
What caused marketers to be ahead of the meme game? Marketers could argue that the success of the @Wendys pre-emptive mockery of consumers really brought mainstream brands onto the irony bandwagon, starting at the beginning of the year. Sure, before there were always niche successes, like ThinkGeek and Cards Against Humanity. But @Wendys was a whopper of a mainstream success. Er, single with cheese.
So it was almost a given that beginning on May 15, when a Kickstarter campaign aimed at funding the creation of the RompHim — a romper for men — started, memes mocking the fashion went viral. They were almost all ironically aimed at how desirable the clothing made the man, but the RompHim creators had beaten the meme-makers to the snark.
Man: "What do you think of my new romper?"
Woman: "Take that stupid thing off!"
Man: "Alright, alright, my plan worked flawlessly."
— Corey Howser, M.D. (@coreyddavis) May 23, 2017
That video? That’s not a meme. That’s a RompHim promotional ad. Oops. Sorry. A video from ACED Design, creator of the “Original RompHim.” (This one's even funnier, as it's just a guy on a pool floatie and is part of the media kit. Yes, it's also at the end of the Kickstarter video.)
And how well is this self-mockery working? As of Tuesday afternoon, ACED had $365,093 pledged on Kickstarter by 3,139 backers — far past its $10,000 goal, with 21 days of funding remaining.
And if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, check out the ReeRomp that Reebok announced days after the RompHim campaign kicked off. But it wasn’t the first time Reebok rode the tailwind of a meme.
After Nordstrom’s name got dragged through the mud for its faux dirt-splattered denim ensemble priced at $900, Reebok created a verisimilitude of a sweat-stained T-shirt and priced it at $425, reports MarketWatch on Sunday.
So while memes can compare the male rompers to crocheted shorts and Swiss Army Knives, plenty of consumers are buying the clothes and some are even talking publicly about why they like it: “Looks comfortable” and James Bond (played by Sean Connery) wore one in 1964’s “Goldfinger.” (It doesn't appear as though the late Roger Moore wore one.)
So the ACED Design leadership, “four friends of varied backgrounds (management consulting, investment banking and private equity, and fintech) who met at Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University,” appears to be laughing all of the way to the bank.
Reading how they decided to create RompHim’s sounds a lot like college conversations about how pizza and beer constitute the four food groups:
“We were sitting around over drinks one evening and got to talking about the men’s clothing options out there. Everything was either too corporate, too fratty, too “runway” or too basic. Something was missing. Why wasn’t there anything out there that allowed guys to be more stylish and fun, without also sacrificing comfort, fit and versatility?”
It seems especially clever because, after all, plenty of retailers sell RompHims by other names: jumpsuit with shorts, singlet, playsuit or unitard. (Okay, maybe they’re not exactly the same, but how do marketers explain the “Slim Short Jumpsuit With Grandad Collar”? Today.com explained on May 18 that the romper shows more “man-thigh.”)
Macy’s seems to accept the synonyms. The brand didn’t have a clothing line named “adult onesies,” but the retailer had optimized 10 search results for the term.
What do you think, marketers?
Please respond in the comments section below.
Related story: Here’s Mud in Your Eye, Nordstrom