With salty language, social media, 3-D effects and a vampire, the next campaign from Calvin Klein Underwear is holding nothing back. It’s the brand’s most global and most digital campaign to date and features, for the first time, a racially and nationally diverse quartet of male models instead of just one. They are:
• American actor Kellan Lutz, who plays vampire Emmett Cullen in the “Twilight” series, and is expected to be more prominent in “Eclipse,” the third installment.
• American actor Mehcad Brooks, who played “Eggs” Benedict Talley on HBO’s “True Blood,” and now stars as an attorney on ABC’s new legal drama, “The Deep End.”
• Spanish tennis star Fernando Verdasco, a top-10 ranked player.
• Japanese soccer star Hidetoshi Nakata, one of the most famous Asian footballers (although retired), who attends runway shows and wears designer clothes, earning him a reputation as the Asian David Beckham.
The four will appear separately in coordinated advertisements debuting “X,” a new underwear range hitting stores this month.
“The launch of Calvin Klein X Underwear is a truly global initiative, so we believe it is imperative to feature talent from our most important regions — Asia, Europe and the USA — in the launch advertising,” said Tom Murry, chief executive officer of Calvin Klein Inc., a division of Phillips-Van Heusen.
Photographer Mikael Jansson shot the ads in New York, with production by consulting creative director Trey Laird of Laird & Partners.
A record 19 percent of the ad buy is going toward digital platforms, including Facebook, in 15 markets, and dominant portals and search engines in China (largely Tudou and Baidu) and South Korea (Naver), together having the potential for 66 million impressions. Digital ads will link to Xmarkyourspot.com, a destination for all materials and videos featuring the four models, allowing consumers to see behind the scenes and hear them speak.
“The four different guys give us different ways to express things. They have different personalities, and that helps in our dialogue with our consumers,” said Bob Mazzoli, chief creative officer for Calvin Klein Underwear, a unit of The Warnaco Group.
In some profanity-laced videos, words are bleeped out by sound and by an X that appears over the mouth. The ad buy includes broadcast spots and taxi TV, and if censors object to these videos, that’s a tradition at Calvin Klein.
Teasers for the digital campaign begin later this month, leading to a full reveal on March 1 to coincide with print and outdoor ads, which also have some digitally advanced elements. Ads in GQ will have an augmented reality component allowing consumers with Webcams to view 3-D effects. All in-store visuals will have QR codes that, when scanned with mobile phones, link to videos.
Print ads will break in April books in 22 markets, starting with Vanity Fair on March 9. Spreads will have a close-up on the left and a cropped body image on the right.
“We’re thinking bold, graphic and provocative as always,” said Mazzoli.
In addition to black-and-white photography, print and outdoor ads boast a giant red X that relates to the product design. The X range has a wide waistband ringed with the words “Calvin Klein” in capital letters and an X patch on the center front of the band. The collection marks a return to the heavy branding kicked off by the Calvin Klein Steel range two years ago; that campaign featured Djimon Hounsou. More recent campaigns focused on Garrett Neff and Jamie Dornan.