What can we learn from … Bonds’ Marketing Strategy

By The LDN Team | 4 October 2016
What can we learn from … Bonds’ Marketing Strategy
In the first of our new series we put the spotlight on an iconic Australian brand: Bonds. What can small business marketers and business owners learn from Bonds? What is it about Bonds’ marketing strategy that’s made them an Aussie favourite? 

Did you know the average Aussie home has no less than seven Bonds items in the wardrobe? From the signature singlet, which has sold almost half a billion units since the 1930s, to the colourful Kids’ Zippys. The brand is renowned for vibrant designs that appeal to every generation. 

But Bonds is about far more than its clothing. At “100 years young”, Bonds is an iconic brand that oozes Australia-ness. Relevant, yet provocative – but never vanilla. That’s the Bonds brand. And it is brought to life through a continuously surprising and brilliant marketing strategy, from its social media strategy to TV ads that can get the whole family tapping their feet. 

Here are 3 marketing lessons every business owner and marketer can learn from Bonds:

Lesson #1: Share your story

Jump onto the Bonds homepage and you’ll find the company has been around for 100 years. Surprised? That’s because, despite its heritage, the brand is not stuffy and out of date. However, Bonds doesn’t shy away from its history; it celebrates and shares its story. After all, this is a story interwoven with notable chapters in Australia’s history. 

Bonds started out during World War 1 in 1915 as a small importer and distributor of women’s hosiery. In 1928 Charles Kingsford–Smith and Charles Ulm wore Bonds’ undergarments on their world record making Pan-Pacific flight. 

Then, in 2000, Bonds rose to fame as makers of the uniforms for 120,000 Sydney Olympics volunteers. It’s no wonder every second Australian pulls on a pair of Bonds underwear each morning!

Small business takeaway:
Bonds is fortunate to have a long and remarkable story. But you don’t need a heritage that stretches back a hundred years to showcase your story. You just need to share a story that’s uniquely yours and make it relevant for today’s consumer. 

Lesson #2: Harness the Power of Ambassadors

Bonds has been embracing the power of ambassadors in its marketing since 2001 when it signed Sarah Murdoch and Pat Rafter as its first brand ambassadors. There’s always an element of risk in associating your brand with a personality. That’s why it’s important to get the right fit. With Rafter, Bonds embraced the cool, funny and humble attributes of this much-loved Aussie personality. 


When Bonds chose husband and wife duo Hamish Blake and Zoe Foster-Blake as its active-wear celebrity ambassadors in 2016, they knew what they were letting themselves in for. Hamish and Zoe both have “don’t take yourself too seriously” personalities, which is a perfect match for the happy-go-lucky Bonds brand. 

Sure, a few people took offence to some of Hamish and Zoe’s onscreen antics. But, in the end, the Bonds brand is strong enough to push the boundaries and it’s proven a great partnership. 

Small business takeaway:
Engage local ambassadors that complement your brand. Think about the brand attributes you want to highlight and consider which ambassadors will allow you to do this. For example, is there a local blogger or instagrammer that you could partner with?

Lesson #3: Create memorable campaigns

Even before Bonds’ cheeky Think Of Father and shocking The Boys’ men’s pants advertising campaigns, there was BOOBS. 

In 2013, to launch its new bra collection, the brand changed its iconic BONDS logo to BOOBS to promote the company’s bra range. Using the same brand font, billboards across Australia spelled the word loud and proud. Consumers loved it and the BOOBS campaign became a Bonds advertising success story. And to prove it, this one-word campaign increased sales by 83%. (You can watch the campaign here)

There are three reasons the BOOBS campaign worked:
  1. It was perfectly in tune with Bonds’ tongue-in-cheek brand personality. 
  2. It appealed to the Aussie sense of humour. 
  3. It tied simply yet brilliantly to the product (boobs means bras).
Small business takeaway:
Don’t be afraid to take risks with your marketing campaigns. Sometimes you need to go in a scary new direction in order to grab attention and be memorable. But, like Bonds, always stay true to your brand otherwise you risk losing your loyal customers.

Stay tuned for the next in our series of iconic Australian brands. If you’re looking for more tips on what makes for a great marketing strategy, check out our blog

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