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Advertising Campaigns For Calvin Klein And DKNY

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Marketing
Wordcount: 3824 words Published: 8th May 2017

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The idea is to look into the advertising campaigns for Calvin Klein and DKNY Jeans and understand their advertising strategies. On one hand, Calvin Klein takes a bold approach to reach out to their consumers and on the other hand, DKNY Jeans try to go bold but with a laid back approach. The study involves the understanding of bold advertising campaigns and consumers respond to such adverts. It’s about understanding how consumers perceive different brands based on their advertising and how they react to the various marketing strategies used by companies.

The aim of this report is to understand the market profile for Calvin Klein and suggest a relevant advertising campaign for the same.


I am going to start my research by talking about the relationship between media and fashion. Going on to how consumers react to different advertisements and base their perception of a brand on the kind of marketing strategy.

Media and Fashion in United Kingdom:

A study shows that 23million people in the U.K. declare not to be affected by the different marketing activities going on around them. But 7million also say that they are attracted towards advertisements when they offer discount vouchers or promotional offers. Women are the main target of fashion through media as they are more likely to be influenced with what they see celebrities doing, what they see in fashion magazines, newspapers, shows, etc. These activities influence the shopping behavior of 2-3.5 million people. Out of these, only a number less than 2 million get influenced by celebrity endorsed brands.

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Consumers have now become practical in their buying behavior. They choose the need to buy over impulse buying. Almost 17 million people choose comfort over style when buying clothes. Up to 15 million people look for the lowest prices and bargains at the time of purchase. But a group of 10 million is ready to pay a higher price for better quality and style in their clothing. In the research, if asked to choose just one type of retailer that they would go to for maximum purchases, 19 million people chose the mid-market retailers like Marks & Spencer and Next. 12 million said to have shopped in discount chain stores like Primark and 5 million people said that they would buy most of their clothing from higher-end or designer outlets.

Ways in which Brands Communicate

Studies show that the annual advertising spending of companies declined in 2008 and 2009 but they are expected to rise to a healthier level in 2010. In 2009, 30 leading high street retailers said to have spent 37% of their total spending budget on advertising.

Adding to their advertising activities, lots of retailers also rely on the media hype that spreads their visibility around.

Recession opened a lot of new opportunities for retailers and it influenced their flow of advertising. It pushed retailers to advertise in a way that consumers get value for money. It gave birth to inventive and cost-effective advertising approach. Since the consumers became reluctant to buying things at full price, retailers advertised sales, discount vouchers, coupons, etc to attract consumers. Also, loyalty card schemes with point’s redemption would also encourage sales for retailers.

(Source: Mintel Reports– Media and Fashion- UK- February 2010)



Calvin Klein has been in the news and is one of the most talked about brands for their controversial advertising campaigns, and they have proved that their strategy has been successful for their target market. They have paid special attention to the images that they use in their advertisements. In the ads, they are known for their edginess. They are not shy about going out of the norms when it comes to making their adverts. It all started in 1980 with the Brooke Shields (a 15 year old girl) advert in 1980, with a punch line “NOTHING COMES BETWEEN ME AND MY CALVINS”. Another advert featured male models wearing only stark white briefs was placed onto giant billboards and were put up on Times Square, New York City. Again in 1995, a Calvin Klein Jeans campaign with images of pubescent models caused major controversies and was a topic of debate among many. It was said to have crossed the line between fashion and pornography. Early in the 60’s, advertising campaigns using images of teenage models that were under the age of 15 years was considered as “picture set” pornography. To this, Klein said that the campaign was not pornographic. His intensions were to convey the idea that glamour is an inner quality which can be found in almost every individual in the most ordinary setting. He said that the idea of presenting glamour is not confined to the movie stars of the models; it is present within our own self.

Another recent campaign by Calvin Klein was with Eva Mendes and Jamie Doman. In the ads they are both oiled up and twist around each other in the sand wearing JUST jeans. These ads were put up on billboards and caught the eyes of many. There was another controversy, but this time with the consumers. It became the talk of almost every conversation of whoever saw it and those who didn’t see it were waiting to catch a glimpse of the image. After all who wouldn’t want to see a picture of Eva Mendes half naked with a man in steamy hot positions???

Then there was one with Kate Moss and Mark Wahlberg. This one was for Calvin Klein underwear. Here we saw Kate and Mark sitting up close, Kate is wearing just the CK Underwear and Mark is wearing Jeans over his underwear showing the brand’s name by wearing his jeans a bit too low.

Although Klein was trying to convince the market, Consumer and Child welfare advocates did not agree to his explanation, they thought the adverts to be highly disturbing and abusive. After this the American Family Association threatened Calvin Klein to boycott their stores if they did not discontinue their advertising campaign.

So much controversy and publicity turned the Calvin Klein Jeans to a ‘must have’ item in the wardrobes of many. It became like the product of the season. For Calvin Klein, the ‘bad boy’ image enhanced the brand and its products in the eyes of the young consumers. For Calvin, the whole point was to grab attention, it was their communications strategy. “If you want kids to like you, you need to piss off their parents,” Klein said, and believe it or not it really did do the work for him.



Donna Karan New York by Donna Karan has been known for their candid looking images in their advertisements. DKNY adverts are very general looking and have a realistic approach. With their advertisements, DKNY tries to sell an entire lifestyle with the clothes. Their clothes represent an expression of who a woman is with all the complications, feelings and emotions which also reflects in the advertisements. They play with emotions, as Karan is determined to seduce all the senses. Their advertising story begins and ends with the body and its sensual expressions, sense of security and the freedom of movement. DONNA KARAN NEW YORK- as it has New York in the label, it sets the pace and the attitude of what the brand is all about. They sell fast fashion with an urban mind-set and that is the reason they try to deliver the energy and the spirit of New York. Their adverts are a portrayal of the international, eclectic, fun, fast and a real environment.

They deliver a unique mix of style that is both fashionable and friendly. In their campaigns, they convey the highest standards of creativity, integrity, quality and innovation.

The 2009 ad campaigns were a series of ads shot by The Sartorialist, Scott Schuman. Pictures were shot in the streets of New York City; they were relevant and matched up to the need of the hour.

Hilary Duff & DKNY Jeans launch FEMME for DKNY Jeans

This was a design partnership between the multi-platinum recording artist, actress and entrepreneur Hilary Duff and DKNY Jeans Brand and it was called FEMME for DKNY JEANS. Since the collection was a mix of rocker chic with a soft touch and was inspired by feminine element s like the poppies, some sequins, the shiny mixed with tougher vinyl, menswear fabrics and motorcycle details, DKNY supported its launch with the comprehensive marketing approach in a way to reach to their consumers through all the media points available.


Name of the brand: Calvin Klein

This leading fashion design and marketing company was founded by Calvin Klein in 1968 and has its Head Quarters in New York City, United States of America. It is currently owned by Philips- Van Heusen Corporation.

1968- 1st Coat shop in the York Hotel in New York City. Lead to 1st Calvin Klein collection: a line of Coats for men and women.

1969- Appeared on Vogue Magazine, named “THE SUPREME MASTER OF MINIMALISM”.

1971- Added sportswear, classic coats and lingerie for women.

1973- Awarded the COTY AWARD for a 74 piece womenswear collection.

Received this award for three consecutive years.

1977- Annual revenues rose to $30million. Got license for scarves, shoes, belts, furs, sunglasses and sheets. Also got licenses for cosmetics, jeans and menswear. After this, the estimated annual retail volume of the company was $100million.

1978- Claimed sales of 200,000 pairs of jeans in the first week of them being in the market.


Late 1970s- Introduced fragrance and cosmetics but withdrew due to major financial losses.

1980s- Introduced a line of boxer shorts for women and men’s underwear, sold upto $70million in a year.

1981- Fortune magazine noted Calvin’s annual income as $8.5million per year.

1990- Giant billboards of images showing Mark Walhberg in his underpants. After this, underpants started being known as Calvins.

Products include a wide range of apparel, accessories, shoes, sleepwear, hosiery, socks, swimwear, belts, eyewear, watches, jewelry, coats, suits and fragrances for men and women, as well as products for the home.

Target customer for Calvin Klein

The Calvin Klein customer is the modern, urban and curvy woman belonging to the medium-high class of the society. They have customers who are over the age of 40- these go for the classics. Then there are people who are between the age group of 25-40 years who are a bit more experimental and like to buy a variety of things. There are the ones who are between the age group of 18-25 years who buy the newer products that are out, they don’t hesitate to try new things and the ones who mostly spend on themselves. These are the actual target market for Calvin Klein and the advertising campaigns are made keeping this age group in mind. On the broader picture, people between the age group of 12-50 years are Calvin Klein customers but their target is a much younger audience, people who have a hip urban image and all those who have a young attitude and approach towards life.

(Source: http://marketing-case-studies.blogspot.com/2008/04/ck-be-campaign.html)


“Nothing is so powerful as an insight into human nature… what compulsions drive a man, what instincts dominate his action… if you know these things about a man you can touch him at the core of his being.” – By William Bernbach

To create a new advertising campaign, it is important to understand what a consumer wants, what are his/her needs, what are the things that affect his/her purchase decisions, what factors motivates him/her to buy, what kind of personalities do they have, what kind of emotional characteristics do they acquire. Once these questions are answered and a marketing strategy is made keeping these things in mind then there is no stopping or looking back for a brand.

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Though Calvin Klein has a huge consumer base but their advertising campaign only targets a small group of people between the age group of 18-29 years of age. Their target is the young, smart, urban and working professionals. They have been following the bold advertising approach to attract their target market and they have repeatedly been successful in doing so.

After doing a survey with a sample of 34 people between the age group of 25- 45 years and asking them a series of questions about advertising and their perceptions about the same, I have come to understand that-

58.8% of the people recall adverts when they are buying an item.

55.9% of the people would like to see celebrities over models in an advert and 38.2% would prefer to see an ordinary person so that they can relate to them.

Out of those who would like to see celebrities, 69% would like to their native celebrity in an advert.

64.7% feel that advertisements are made just for creating hype in the market and only the remaining 35.3% feel that adverts are actually product centric.

85.3% of the people just observe the adverts, they don’t get involved, and it doesn’t provoke them to buy.

82.3% of the people feel that advertisements are not trustworthy anymore as it is done just for media excitement.

38.2% of the people feel that the portrayal of sex in advert sells the product but 41.2% are not sure of it and think that might be one of the reasons for a product to sell.

58.8% of the people feel that only the representation of Sex in an advert would not pull them to buy a product.

70.6% of the people feel the need to be dressed in a smart and sexy way to please themselves other than their partners or friends.

70.6% of the people feel that they don’t need to admire anyone in particular, as they do and want to feel good about their own self in all the ways.

These statistics have made me think that a consumer today is definitely driven by the advertisements that they see but they want more faith and a sense of responsibility by the retailers. Consumers relate to the adverts but they also feel that they are not to be trusted. They get involved in the story and the theme of the adverts but there is no product enhancement in those stories.

In my opinion, Calvin Klein should try to approach the market with a little less bold image. Their campaigns create media hype and controversies which does pull the younger consumer into the stores but they should try to expand their target to a bit older consumer. This can be done by shifting the focus of Sex and Intimacy in their ads to portraying an emotion of feeling SEXY and SMART from within. The ads can be focused on one individual and the product. There can be story ads with individuals thinking about the product and feeling good about them.

Like one of the previous ads in 1980where Brooke Shields is lying down wearing a shirt and then tries to wear a pair of jeans while she’s in the same position. She turns, folds her legs, moves here and there and throughout the process she’s talking about the structure and the comfort of Calvin Klein Jeans. (Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AXzR5b6HoIA)

Another way would be create new adverts which revolve around the product. Make ads that talk about jeans, which talk about denim. There can be a story ad about the evolution of jeans from denim threads. My survey shows that customers nowadays feel that the ads are no more trustworthy. They feel that they don’t focus on the product that they are selling. So, it is important to create ads that deliver information about the product i.e. Jeans for Calvin Klein. These new story ads will deliver information about jeans and its story and uses.

Ad 1: An uptight smart, executive middle aged woman in an elevator, dressed in a business suit. She is going to her office and during those 2-3 minutes in the elevator she starts to think about how she’s going to dress for the party at night. Then she sees herself breaking from that uptight neat look to a carefree person, a girl who is having fun and is happy to be what she is. She sees herself moving and dancing around comfortably in her Calvins.

Ad 2: It can be a repetition of the earlier Brooke Shields ad where she is moving around trying to wear her Calvins and during the process she talks about the comfort and the structure of them.

Ad 3: This ad can have Mr. Klein himself, in his office or design room. He is talking about his Calvins, where they come from and what is the brand all about. Who can be a better person than him to talk about Calvin Klein? This kind of an ad will leave the customers with more trust and belief in the company and the brand.

These scenarios can also be replicated through print ads and through graphic displays inside the stores. The print ads can be a one page ad or it can be like a story ad to involve the customer.

It is said that advertisers use females in the adverts to cater to the male products also. It is considered as a powerful tool to grab attention of the viewer. It has also been said that even if some disagree to sex appeal advertisements, women associate themselves with these kinds of adverts. So it would be the right decision to use female celebrities and people in the campaign as it will serve to both the sexes.

Here are some of the ways in which Calvin Klein can enhance their brand through the use of these promotional tools:


The advertisements and the commercials can have the native celebrities of the area where the ads are going to be present. They can all be shot and filmed in a similar way in order to keep the entire ad campaign in sync. This can be presented through the print ads, broadcasted ads, brochures and pamphlets inside the stores (they can also be dropped in the shopping bag at the time of purchase), they can be displayed on billboards and can also be reflected though the packaging of the merchandise.

Sales Promotion

Another way to encourage the sales is through sales promotion. There can be contests and games held where Calvin Klein vouchers can be distributed as gifts. Calvin Klein can participate in the sponsorships of various fairs and trade shows being held in different countries.

Public Relations

Another way to enhance a brand is by getting involved in public relations activities. These can include speeches and seminars in stores in a small way and press conferences to launch a new campaign. Public relations have always been considered very fruitful for a company as media buzz is considered on the reliable sources in the minds of the consumers. They always believe when the press hypes up an issue.

Sales Force

The sales people in a store are one of the most important contributors in the sales of a retail store. They need to be trained well about the product and about the brand image which is being delivered through the marketing campaigns. As a part of the marketing planning, they need to be trained on a regular basis. Their training can be done through various sales presentations and meetings. Also, in order to keep them well charged and result in good sales, the administration of Calvin Klein should come up with special incentive programs and a percentage increase based on the sales figures.

Direct Marketing

This is one of the alternate ways to generate sales. Since the retail sector keeps on changing and the consumer behavior, habits and the demands keep on changing with it, it is important for Calvin Klein as a brand to get into a multi channel approach to selling. This can maximize the sales and increase the market share. There are a number of different ways for doing so-it can be done through catalogues, sending mailers to customers or by simply sending emails to the consumers.


So to conclude, I have understood that Calvin Klein needs to capture a new segment of the market by making some changes in their approach. They need to be a little less bold with their images. There is a need to portray Sex & Sensuality in an individualistic approach. As in the emotion of feeling sexy, smart, sensual, confident and chic for one’s own self. Their advertisements should be story based. Their target needs to expand to elder ages. It can be from 18-29 years of age to reaching out to people who are up to 50 years of age. Since people are no longer taking ads seriously and have stopped trusting in them, it is very important to build the trust back. Marketing is one of the most important tools which can help in bringing your customers to believe in you. Getting Mr. Klein in the campaign would rebuild the trust factor, as who would think that a man his age would lie or cheat on national international display of the advertisements. My research shows that customers are attracted towards ads that have celebrities in them. They also believe in the concept the ‘SEX SELLS’, but they also believe that Sexual images in an ad would not pull them towards buying that product. An Indian actress, Neha Dhupia, once said “ONLY SEX OR SHAHRUKH KHAN SELLS” (said on 14th July 2004), Shahrukh Khan is a very famous Indian Actor, he is also known as The Baadshah (King) of Bollywood. Hence, this results in a marketing campaign that has a bit of Sensuality and a Celebrity.

From this report, I have understood that using female figures in a campaign would cater to both the sexes in the society. But it is very important not to represent women as mere sex objects. The focus of the campaign should be more on the significant traits of the female personality.

I feel that while creating a marketing a plan for a company, the marketing person needs to possess attributes of an illusionist and of a magician. So, the message that will be delivered through these ads would me something that is not there but can be real, its like creating a fantasy for the viewer of the advertisements. The magic here would be to trick the customer by getting into their emotions, which here is the passion and sensuality that is present in everyone of us. The story ads would generate the feeling of curiosity and suspense in the viewers’ minds. So the purpose is to engage the customer in the advert that it leaves them thinking and wanting to buy to the product.


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