Justin Timberlake never really wanted to be the face of the William Rast brand.
That was, until new creative directors Johan and Marcella Lindeberg presented him with a plan.
This story first appeared in the July 14, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“We came up with this idea for him to play a role as this guy named William Rast,” Johan Lindeberg said. “So it isn’t meant to be Justin, it’s Justin playing a role, as an actor. When we explained the idea, he instantly loved it and got really into building the profile of this character.”
The multimedia campaign includes a series of short, Web-based documentaries titled “My Name Is William Rast,” featuring Timberlake, who represents a mysterious rebel, and model Erin Wasson, who plays Birdie, his love interest.
Shot and directed by Jonas Akerlund, a Grammy-winning filmmaker who has worked with the likes of Madonna and U2, the documentaries are set in what looks to be Timberlake’s home state of Tennessee, although they were actually filmed in the contemporary brand’s home base of Los Angeles.
The story follows Timberlake and Wasson on the run from what seems to be the police, as they have apparently just committed a crime. Decked head to toe in William Rast gear, the couple stops for occasional steamy make-out sessions before running through the woods to escape from gunshots heard in the distance.
Marcella Lindeberg said the films, which were all shot in 16-mm. for a raw feel, were created to leave something to the imagination.
“You never really know who they are running from or what they are running toward,” she said. “But the characters are developed in such a way so we can carry the story on through seasons to come.”
In addition to playing the leading role in the campaign, Timberlake also wrote the score and contributed to the screenplays.
The documentaries are set to air later this month on williamrastmovie.com. They will launch in conjunction with the redesign of the brand’s Web site, williamrast.com, where the collection also can be purchased. While the films will serve as the centerpiece, a print campaign — which was shot to look like a series of movie posters leading the reader to williamrastmovie.com — is set to run in September issues of women’s and men’s high-end fashion magazines in the U.S. and internationally. It also will run outdoors, in select urban areas, including New York and Los Angeles.
“Fall will showcase our first full collection, so we felt that this was the right time to get the name and the image of the brand out there,” said Colin Dyne, chief executive officer of William Rast. “At first, we were going to only do a print campaign, but we really wanted to utilize the Internet to reach our demographic and create a buzz around the brand. Using new media is crucial in today’s world.”
The William Rast brand, which launched in 2005 as a premium denim line, has branched out into a complete sportswear collection under the creative direction of the Lindebergs. For fall, the collection will sell in Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdale’s as well as 200 other specialty stores globally. Dyne would not disclose the company’s ad budget for the campaign.