NEW YORK — With the marketing of his new eponymous fragrance duo, designer Kenneth Cole is hoping to do well by doing good.
This story first appeared in the September 6, 2002 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Cole, whose social conscience has been a part of his ads since the beginning, is continuing the tradition with the print and TV ad campaign for his new scents.
“I’m fortunate that the brand has its own social equity —?it has evolved over the 20-plus years we’ve been doing this,” said Cole. “It made sense to bring that into the fragrance campaign. And it excited me to do this type of campaign with a product — fragrance — that is generally marketed so differently.”
The print campaign tackles three causes: pro-choice, HIV/AIDS and gun safety.
The pro-choice message ad depicts a man and a woman wearing buttons that read: My Body (woman), My Choice (man). The HIV/AIDS message ad shows a man and a woman with buttons that read: Pro-Recycling / Pro-Diversity (man), Pro-phylactics (woman). The gun safety message ad depicts two men with one carrying a baby. The man is wearing a button that has a gun with an X through it and the baby is wearing a button that says: 2nd Amendment. The campaign’s tag line is “Stir the Air” —?meant to be a play on words both meaning that the scents are in the air, and encouraging consumers to take social responsibility.
“All of these messages provoke and encourage people to look at all sides of an issue,” said Cole, who served as chief creative director for the campaign, and worked closely with ad agency TBWA/Chiat/Day and his in-house team to put it together. “And at the same time, they address both men and women, which was our intent.”
The TV spot is “more general,” said Cole, adding that “it deals with an emotional relationship to the issues and to fragrance.” It’s also the first time the designer has tackled TV ads.
Camille McDonald, president and chief executive officer of Parfums Givenchy, American Designer Fragrances and Guerlain, acknowledged that the campaign is “different from anything the fragrance market has seen before.” The American Designer Fragrances unit is producing the scent.
“Anybody who goes out there this fall with business as usual has a logic problem,” McDonald said bluntly, pointing out that the industry is rolling out more fragrances within the next six weeks than have been released together at any point up until now. “We now have the mandate as fragrance marketers to be different. The fragrance category is not growing in prestige department stores, and the conclusion has to be that we have to find a different vocabulary to discuss the category with consumers.”
McDonald believes that Cole’s viewpoint is that difference. “He’s always believed that consumers need to think as well as fantasize,” she said. “With an emotional project like a fragrance, we have a special opportunity to carry a thought-provoking message. This campaign isn’t about a closeup of a pretty girl with a fragrance bottle in the corner.”
While neither Cole nor McDonald would comment on projected spending, industry sources estimated that at least $10 million would be spent on the campaign. What both are vocal about, however, is the campaign’s planned reach. “About 90 percent of people in the 18-to-49-year-old age bracket [the scents’ target market] will see a Kenneth Cole New York fragrance ad seven to eight times between Sept. 15 and Dec. 25,” said McDonald.
Print ads will break in October issues of men’s and women’s national magazines such as Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar, GQ and Men’s Health. All ads are dual, featuring both the women’s and the men’s fragrances. A bottle-only teaser shot, however, ran in September issues of In Style, Vogue and GQ.
The print campaign was shot on the streets of New York City by photographer Philip-Lorca diCorcia, a student of Robert Mappelthorpe who came out of retirement to shoot the campaign. “He has a wonderful way of bringing you into a specific place and time,” Cole said, adding that the photographer rarely shoots for advertising.
TV flights begin this month. Spot ads will run in September and October, while network ads are scheduled to run in December. The TV spot is being shot by the Snorri brothers, Einar and Eidur, known for their technique of using still photographs to create videos for bands such as R.E.M., No Doubt and Green Day.
Outdoor advertising will also be implemented, with billboards slated for September in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, and placements set for New York City buses in September. The tag line on the outdoor advertising is “After all these years, we’re finally making scents.”
Tied to all, as reported, is the sampling campaign, which will include deluxe miniatures of the fragrance bottles, spray vials, packettes and scented strips which are slated to get scented impressions to more than 100 million consumers.