When joseph janus signed on last September as director of advertising and marketing for upstart jeans company JNCO Industries, he had a pretty good idea what his job would entail.
Revatex's JNCO had virtually created the wide-leg jeans market five years ago when it introduced its brand. Since then, the term "jincos" has become a generic term among wide-leg-jeans-wearing youths-not unlike Band-Aid or even Levi's.
Last year, retailers and parents accustomed to more prominent brand names were still learning that "jinkos" really meant JNCO.
That's why Mr. Janus became a a 30-year-old among 12-to-20-year-olds at a concert in a New York rock club, bedecked in jeans and a baseball cap with an episode of "South Park" playing on a big screen behind him.
The executive was giving away stickers and JNCO jeans to kids willing to take off their pants and make a trade. It was a switch from his previous role as director of retail merchandising and marketing for an upscale apparel company.
This style of "in your face" promotion has catapulted the brand to the top of the wide-leg jeans category. Though the privately held company doesn't release numbers, business and trade magazines put the company's sales anywhere between $40 million and $100 million in 1997.
Mr. Janus says an ingredient essential to JNCO's success is its ability to stay in touch with its young consumers.
Because JNCO is closely identified by the extreme sports enthusiast, the company is a sponsor at top events in bicycle motocross, skateboarding, surfing and snowboarding. The company also sponsors Team JNCO athletes.
Further, JNCO increased youth marketing, including ads in such magazines as Board, Seventeen, Skateboarding, Snowboarding and Spin.
What was a hardly known brand more than a year ago now sits on rivals' shelf space at retailers nationwide.
The key to success, he notes, is to make a product that helps kids feel good about themselves. Then they'll identify with your product.