A PR Plan for Cargo Shorts

by Belfort Group | Thought Leadership
August 19, 2016

When we saw the vicious takedown piece on cargo shorts in the Wall Street Journal, we knew things weren’t good. But we had no idea how bad they would truly get.

If the “experts” are to be believed, cargo shorts are unfashionable. That’s actually putting it kindly. In fact, those against this venerable fashion staple dating back to the 1940s say cargo shorts are hideous. Repugnant. Somewhere between leisure suits and Ed Hardy shirts.

If the media is to be believed, the haters (almost exclusively women, we might add) loathe cargo shorts so much it has started to cause friction in their relationships. Wives are sneaking in and covertly snatching up pairs of cargo shorts belonging to their husbands, and throwing them out. Men everywhere are finding themselves on sofas, forced to choose between the blissful comfort and utilitarian nature of their favorite shorts, and the company of their spouses.

Even outside of relationships, cargo shorts are causing angst and division.

In BG’s own hallowed halls, cargo shorts have caused a wide rift that may or may not ever be repaired. Several of the managers (pictured above) are older and have kids, which means cargo shorts are a given. But when we asked some of our younger employees what they thought, they spoke in one unified and disgusted voice, telling us in no uncertain terms cargo shorts are “basic,” “ugly,” and “ridiculous.”

But it doesn’t have to be like this.

One of our specialty areas at BG is crisis management, and cargo shorts are most assuredly in crisis. However, it also our firm belief in crisis there is always opportunity. So here’s our free advice for the brave companies still producing our favorite cargo shorts we’ve loved since the 1990s.

Right now there’s backlash, but ride it out because you’ll start to see backlash to the backlash. It’s the way of the media world. You can drive that narrative by starting an influencer campaign featuring popular and savvy dad bloggers, who will no doubt gladly post pictures of themselves in their favorite cargos while displaying the many advantages cargo shorts bring to parenting (holding cell phones, keys, your wife’s stuff, pacifiers, bottles, formula, diapers, wipes, etc).

Put the entire campaign under the umbrella of the hashtag #Dads4Cargos and watch as they tap their vast audience of parents that sets off a pro-cargo shorts social media tsunami.

Then, start thinking about some advertising. Look, these are cargo shorts. Even the biggest cargo shorts aficionado knows these aren’t headlining any Milan fashion shows any time soon. But use that idea and have some fun with it.

Create short online videos or commercials juxtaposing cargo shorts and the cutting edge fashions of the day. Have models wearing sleek clothes walk down the runway, followed by a bunch of guys with “dad bods” proudly wearing cargo shorts. The manufacturers who produce cargo shorts should know their customers care less about being seen as fashionable, and more about being comfortable and at ease with themselves. So tap into that.

And if you want to win some hearts and minds with the fairer sex, make the comparison to yoga pants.

There was backlash a few years ago when yoga pants blew up in popularity and society had to answer the pressing question of “are yoga pants appropriate for women to wear in public?” Create an ad campaign that marries cargo shorts and yoga pants, with the tagline “Be comfortable. Wear what works.” Because honestly, I think we could all appreciate a little less judgment and a little more live and let live.

So there you have it – the case for cargo shorts and an outline of a PR plan to save our most treasured article of clothing. So Levi’s, Wrangler, Unionbay, Sonoma, Croft & Barrow, Faded Glory, and all other makers of cargo shorts, we’re here for you. Just call or email, and we’ll gladly put our plan into action.

After we get some free samples, of course. Because there are never enough pockets.

The #DadLife Cargo Crew at Belfort Group
The #DadLife Cargo Crew at Belfort Group
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