“Want to know what comes between me and my Calvins?”…

branding…. everything BUT the brand.


One of the most risqué advertising campaigns for its time featured the 15-year old Brooke Shields. That campaign was revolutionary and firmly solidified Calvin Klein as an edgy, original brand with attitude for the ages. That branding campaign continued and helped carry Calvin Klein’s sales for decades.

A few things happened since then. Calvin Klein sold his company and the advertising for the brand has become victim to the lazy strategy of appealing to millennials by using influencers who often lack any conviction or chemistry for a brand. No longer is the advertising about the product. Rather it is created around a celebrity who has a following. The latest celebrity for Calvin Klein is Kendall Jenner who was selected because of her legions of followers. There have been several research studies done recently which show that celebrity use in ad campaigns is not worth the investment, and most importantly, does not translate to sales.

According to a Boston Consulting Group study reported by MediaPost, celebrity endorsements earn less trust from consumers than any other type of branding. While many celebrities have huge followings on social media, studies have proven that consumers are more likely to be influenced by a close friend or someone in their social circle than a celebrity.  Just tossing a celebrity into a campaign is really the weakest form of creativity.

Calvin Klein said it best himself recently when asked about the new Calvin Klein campaigns. “I’m sure she’s a lovely young woman. It is not the kind of thing I would have done, even today. Now models are paid for how many followers they have. They’re booked not because they represent the essence of the designer, which is what I have tried to do—they’re booked because of how many followers they have online.”   Can’t argue with an original icon.