NEW YORK — London Fog might be a 90-year-old outerwear brand, but it’s a progressive thinker. For its holiday ad campaign, it will feature Neil Patrick Harris and his husband, David Burtka.
This story first appeared in the November 12, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Photographed by Nino Muñoz, the ads show the newlyweds in London Fog outerwear, clothing and accessories. The campaign will break in The New York Times on Nov. 30, and will run in the January issues of magazines such as Vogue, Vanity Fair, InStyle and Men’s Fitness.
“We wanted a couple, and they to us really represented a modern iconic Hollywood couple,” said Dari Marder, chief marketing officer of Iconix Brand Group. She said that London Fog is a family brand, which in the past has featured Eva Longoria and Tony Parker, Christina Hendricks, Gisele Bündchen, and Alessandra Ambrosio and her daughter, Anja. “Each season we change it up a little bit, representing a modern family,” said Marder. Harris and Burtka were married in September.
Marder doesn’t expect backlash from the more conservative parts of the country. “I think it will play well. It’s a beautiful, powerful, intimate moment, and it’s still a fashion campaign.” Marder said that London Fog, despite being 90 years old, is “ready to embrace today. They’re very much a Hollywood iconic couple of today.…We have a smart consumer. We think they’ll get it. We don’t think there will be an issue.”
Harris and Burtka will also appear in the spring campaign, where they will preview the new men’s suit and sportswear offerings that launch for fall 2015.
London Fog will be making a donation in the couple’s honor to the Elton John AIDS Foundation, and they will also get a modeling fee. This is the first time that Harris and Burtka have appeared together in an ad campaign. Marder declined to reveal the holiday ad budget, but said London Fog is increasing its spending by 20 percent, which will also include outdoor and online.
Harris, who just came off the Broadway hit “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” and appears in the movie “Gone Girl,” is perhaps best known for his role in “How I Met Your Mother.” He will be hosting the 2015 Oscar Awards on Feb. 22. Burtka, who is also an actor and professional chef, is doing a solo cabaret act this month, and appearing with Jessica Lange in the season finale of “American Horror Story,” as well as appearing in a Broadway show that opens in March called “It Shoulda Been You.” The couple are parents to twins, Harper and Gideon, now 4. Marder is hoping that the kids will be available to participate in the spring campaign.
Advertising veteran Sam Shahid, owner of Shahid & Company, was enthusiastic about the selection of Harris and Burtka, and doesn’t foresee any backlash.
“It’s about time. I think it’s fantastic they’re doing it,” said Shahid. “London Fog is so mainstream and Middle America, and it’s really healthy.” Shahid recalled an ad he did for Banana Republic in 1991 that showed two guys hugging one another. “There was a lot of backlash. USA Today wrote, ‘Banana Republic Goes Gay.’ I don’t think it will be like that today.
“I think it will be surprisingly well accepted. It might make London Fog stylish again,” said Shahid. “People love Neil Patrick Harris. He’s adorable and wonderful, and a great role model for everybody. The two are appealing to a younger set, and London Fog is trying to be hip and young. I don’t think London Fog will have a problem. I hope the media is very favorable to it. Those who don’t like it wouldn’t buy London Fog anyway.”
Richard Kirshenbaum, chief executive officer of NSG/SWAT, agreed. “I think in a certain sense it’s not news anymore so we made progress.” He recalled when Deutsch Inc. did the first campaign for Ikea featuring a gay family, it got a lot of attention. “I think popular culture, advertising and the issues of the day have moved past that. I’m sure it’s a great photograph of two guys who look great together, who are married, wearing London Fog. I don’t think it’s controversial anymore.” He said when one picks up the Sunday Styles section of the Times and sees the wedding section every weekend, “the landscape has changed.”
“At this stage, it’s part of the cultural landscape. I think that it’s a really good thing. The fact that it’s not an issue is a really good thing.…I think they’ll look terrific in it and they’re an interesting couple, and it was a good choice,” said Kirshenbaum.