By  on September 10, 2010

In 1985, before he had a stitch of clothing to show for his infant label, Tommy Hilfiger had a backer with big ideas, Mohan Murjani. On Day One, Murjani asked Hilfiger what he had in mind for an ad campaign. “I wanted to try shooting great models on a beach,” recalled Hilfiger. “He said, ‘Let me introduce you to George Lois.’” What followed was one audacious line of advertising copy: “The 4 Great American Designers for Men Are R____ L_____, P____ E____, C_____ K____, T____ H_______.” Filling in the blanks immediately captivated the audience.

“When the billboard went up in Times Square, the phone was ringing off the hook,” said Hilfiger. “Journalists were calling up asking, ‘Who is this and who does he think he is?’ I was frightened.” He was also instantly on the map, the definition of an overnight sensation — now with a reputation to live up to.

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