NEW YORK — Calvin Klein has embraced romantic passion.
Known for his cerebral, sexually ambiguous campaigns for his other fragrances, Klein has gone in a new direction for his Eternity scents. He is going straight for sensuality and emotion.
Against a background of crashing surf, models Christy Turlington and Mark Van du Loo are seen kissing and caressing on a Hawaiian beach. Except for the fact that they are standing instead of rolling around in wet sand, they will remind more than one person of the Burt Lancaster-Deborah Kerr clinch in “From Here to Eternity,” one of Hollywood’s steamier love scenes and among its most memorable.
Considering the resemblance to the film (which also took place in Hawaii) and the name of the product, Klein was asked how much influence the 1953 movie had on the commercial.
None, he said, although he admitted, “When I think of the beach my mind automatically gravitates to that [scene]. It’s such a classic.”
In the Eternity spot, Turlington delivers the line,”Time can’t touch us. The past and future disappear.”
“This is the Nineties,” said Klein. “Very direct. It’s the way it should be.”
The new 30-second spot, which will begin airing on network TV Wednesday, represents an evolution from the first two Eternity campaigns. The original series of commercials, which supported the 1988 launch of Eternity and its 1989 follow up, Eternity for Men, was shot by Richard Avedon and consisted of 10 vignettes depicting a couple debating the psychosexual ramifications of love, commitment, jealousy, betrayal, birth and renewal.
The second campaign, produced in 1991 by Bruce Weber, took a much softer approach. It featured children and focused on innocence.
The new spots, which will be accompanied in March by a magazine campaign, refocuses the story onto the couple. There are two similar commercials, one tagged with the Eternity women’s fragrance and the other with the men’s scent.
For Klein, the people in the campaign define the message.
“It’s about romance and sharing and good solid values,” he said. “[Turlington] represents the woman of today, who is more glamorous. She has a woman’s body. She is round and there is flesh on her. She is not an anorexic model.”
He added that the casting in his commercial mirrors “the big changes going on in the fashion world.”
“Is she supposed to be a skinny nothing of a person who disappears or a person who is glamorous?” he asked.
Klein said he had been surprised by the recent “commotion” in the media following his decision to use Turlington for his collections, while continuing with the waif-like Kate Moss for his CK fashion collection and Obsession fragrance advertising.
As for including Turlington in his spring ready-to-wear show, Klein said of her full-bodied glamour, “She will be representing us in a different way.”
He added that Turlington is in the fragrance ads because she is his Eternity woman, just as Moss will continue to appear in the commercials for Obsession.
In addition, Moss is starting to fill out, Klein said.
“She’s gaining weight,” he said. “She has started to have a woman’s body. She is growing up.”
Klein said the emotional force of the new campaign “probably” will be more effective in cutting through the clutter on TV than the previous spots. It is an important consideration, since Eternity is now the largest of Klein’s four fragrance brands and has excellent prospects for growth, despite its age, according to Paulanne Mancuso, president and chief executive officer of Calvin Klein Cosmetics, the designer’s fragrance and cosmetics licensee.
Obsession, Klein’s original master brand, was launched in 1985 and Obsession for Men in 1986. Escape made its debut in 1991 and Escape for Men in 1993. The latest scent, CK One, was introduced in September.
Mancuso declined to provide specifics, but according to industry sources, Eternity and Eternity for Men have a combined global volume this year of more than $160 million wholesale, with the two fragrances generating nearly equal amounts.
In the U.S., where half the worldwide volume is done, the Eternity master brand has been showing single-digit declines during the last two years, according to sources.
But the fragrance has been rolled out to over 40 major markets around the world, where it has caught a second wind.
“It has great appeal in Asia and good reception in Europe,” Mancuso said.
She said the women’s scent still ranks among the top 10 bestsellers around the world and the men’s is in the top five.
Because the Eternity brand has achieved what Mancuso describes as “classic” status and is therefore a prime gift item, the company is stepping up its December advertising support.
For the first time, Klein will advertise on network TV, in addition to its traditional practice of using spot TV on a co-op basis with retailers.
Next’s week debut of network commercials will be followed by another week of spots in what Mancuso estimated as 50 to 60 markets. The spots will be tagged with a value set.
According to sources, Klein — a subsidiary of the Anglo-Dutch Unilever — has budgeted more than $3 million for its December TV buy.
The print ads will break in March in more than a dozen women’s and men’s magazines and 17 million scented strips will appear in April and May editions. The campaign will continue through the year.
“We are not only about creating new fragrances,” Mancuso said, “we are also about protecting existing businesses.”