NEW YORK — Perry Ellis International has given iconic swimwear line Jantzen a face-lift, the results of which include not only an overhaul of the brand’s image, but its design team, as well.
A new ad campaign executed by advertising agency Laspata DeCaro, which has done work for such brands as Blackglama, Sag Harbor and Maidenform, will begin hitting trade publications in July and be one of the most visible examples of what Perry Ellis executives describe as a top-to-bottom retooling of the nearly 100-year-old brand.
Lori Medici, vice president of marketing and communications for Perry Ellis, said the campaign, which features Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue cover model Carolyn Murphy, is targeted at what she calls the “neo-traditional consumer.”
“I think in the past, the brand was targeting an age demographic versus broadening our scope to a lifestyle,” said Medici.
Charles DeCaro, a principal of Laspata DeCaro, said the goal was to infuse Jantzen with a sense of modern glamour.
“That was sort of our mantra,” said DeCaro. “Make it glamorous, but make it today.”
DeCaro and Rocco Laspata, the other principal in Laspata DeCaro, turned to the Jantzen archives for inspiration and focused most of their efforts on updating the brand’s signature elements. The pair started combing through the archives in December and January.
“When you went through the archives and saw all the movie stars, the high-voltage celebrities who wore the suits … it was so inspirational,” said DeCaro. “That was where the campaign was born.”
Jantzen’s diving-girl logo was one of the first design elements that was addressed, according to Laspata.
“We decided to keep the diving girl,” said Laspata. “We thought there was something very cool about her, so we took her shape and worked with it, rounded the shape of it and just modernized it.”
After tweaking the logo and other point-of-sale design elements such as hangtags, they delved into the ad campaign. For this, Laspata said they looked to work off of Jantzen’s heritage.
“It had always leaned to the glam side,” said Laspata. “There was a chic element to the suits, but we needed to take all that and make it relevant to today’s women.”
Laspata and DeCaro felt Murphy had the look that conveyed the combination of Forties and Fifties glam and modern sophistication they were after.
The campaign consists of six print ads. The shots won’t begin hitting the consumer market until November and December.
PEI bought Jantzen from VF Corp. in March 2002. In August 2003, the company tapped KraftWorks to help reposition the brand as a casual lifestyle label. But more significant investments and operational changes have taken place during the last six months, according to Medici, including a new design team based in Orange County in Southern California and several executive appointments in the company’s swimwear business segment. The tab for the new ad campaign has exceeded $1 million, said Medici.
Medici believes bringing in a new design team has allowed for new trends to be incorporated and has helped reinvigorate the line, which had become “a little flat” between the Eighties and Nineties.
“The brand has always been innovative, but once we acquired the brand, we needed to refocus and decide how we’re going to position ourselves as a leader in that arena,” said Medici. “We’ve really sat down and looked at how we’re going to rework this brand.”