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Sex Still a Charm at Calvin Klein

NEW YORK — Calvin Klein Inc. is feeling as frisky as ever in its spring campaigns for Collection, Calvin Klein Jeans and Calvin Klein, the new better sportswear line.<BR><BR>The women’s Collection ads represent the first line designed by...

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NEW YORK — Calvin Klein Inc. is feeling as frisky as ever in its spring campaigns for Collection, Calvin Klein Jeans and Calvin Klein, the new better sportswear line.

The women’s Collection ads represent the first line designed by Francisco Costa. Ads were shot this season by Steven Meisel at a private home in Los Angeles. For the third season, they feature Natalia Vodianova, who is the face of Klein and is under an exclusive contract.

Vodianova’s face and body appear heavily bronzed (Pat McGrath did the makeup) and she’s shown in various sultry poses, such as lying over a couch in an evening gown. She’s also shown with male model Karl Lindman, and in several poses showing off the clothing and accessories, such as a swimsuit, sexy Plexiglas sandals, or a hand-cut leather coat.

A double-page spread will break in February Vogue, and eight-page portfolios will run in March in such magazines as Vogue, W (a sister publication of WWD, both of which are owned by Advance Publications), Vanity Fair and Harper’s Bazaar.

“What we really wanted to do is push the look of Natalia a bit further. We wanted to go with really stronger fashion, make her more of a woman, and keep the sexiness as strong as ever,” said Kim Vernon, senior vice president, global advertising and communications at CKI, a division of Phillips-Van Heusen. “We wanted to do something that took the pictures to another level. It’s still moody, but we wanted to push it a bit, and felt Steven [Meisel] could do it.” For the prior two seasons, Klein used Mario Sorrenti as the Collection advertising photographer.

Unquestionably, the Calvin Klein Jeans ads would be rated high on the sex-o-meter. There are images of the model’s hand going into the guy’s jeans, a female model sitting in her jeans with her legs spread wide open, and those showing a topless guy and girl embracing.

“It’s really about sex and denim and skin. It’s true to the Calvin Klein Jeans image,” said Vernon. “We did not try to do overt in-your-face nudity and sexuality. You look at the pictures and you want to be where they are. They’re sexy and they’re having fun. They look healthy, and the jeans look fantastic.”

Shot by Mikael Jansson in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, a 28-page outsert will run in the February Vanity Fair, which will be polybagged and sent to 300,000 subscribers in the New York and Los Angeles areas. It will also be polybagged with the March Interview, and 100,000 copies will be distributed to the top five markets.

In addition to the U.S., the ads will run in such international publications as Dazed & Confused in the United Kingdom; Rolling Stone in Italy; Downtown in Spain, and Zipped in Hong Kong. Outdoor ads, including billboards, newsstand kiosks, bus shelters and buses, will be mounted in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, as well as major European and Asian cities.

With the launch this spring of the Calvin Klein better line, Vernon felt it was important to communicate the different brand tiers. “The makeup [of the Collection ads] is a way to make the pictures captivating and magnetic and a bit extreme and high fashion. With the designer line, you can take the liberty of pushing fashion,” she said.

For its spring launch, Jansson also shot the Calvin Klein women’s better line’s photographs featuring Amber Valetta.

“The [Calvin Klein better] target is the 30- to 35-year-old who’s more career-oriented,” said Vernon. “We thought Amber really spoke to this target. She’s approachable and beautiful.”

Vernon said ads will appear in April and May in such magazines as Vogue, In Style, Marie Claire, Harper’s Bazaar, Lucky and Real Simple. The spring line will start shipping to stores in March. The Calvin Klein better line is a joint venture between Kellwood Co. and G.A.V. under a license from PVH.

There will also be a direct-mail campaign, featuring the images from the campaign such as a silk bomber jacket, wrap dress and separates.

In addition, Vernon has struck a deal with the Metropolitan Transit Authority here, where it will advertise the new Calvin Klein line on the back of MetroCards. Some 55,000 of them will be distributed in subway locations near Bloomingdale’s. Also toward the end of April, people will hand out 3,000 MetroCards, with $2, in front of Bloomingdale’s and will direct customers inside to get a special Calvin Klein gift.

Globally, CKI’s ad budget is up 25 percent for spring, according to Vernon. She declined to reveal the spring budget. Seven hundred pages of ads, excluding fragrances, will appear in 35 countries. According to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR, CKI spent $4.3 million on media alone in the U.S. in the first half of 2003.

Vernon noted that she worked with Fabien Baron, who was creative director of all three campaigns. She said Calvin Klein himself was involved in all the key concept meetings, as well as the first photo selection meetings. “Calvin’s role in the campaign process hasn’t changed,” she said. Costa was involved in the selection of the photos for the women’s Collection.

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