HILFIGER PINNING HOPES ON TESTINO CAMPAIGN
Byline: Lisa Lockwood
NEW YORK — Can Tommy Hilfiger’s new sportswear campaign jump-start its women’s and men’s business?
Taking a more sophisticated approach than previous campaigns, Hilfiger, along with ad agency Deutsch Inc., is banking on more stylized images taken by Mario Testino to bring some juice back to Hilfiger’s $2 billion machine.
Hilfiger, coming off its first quarterly loss since going public in 1992 — due to $62 million in restructuring charges and markdowns — has a lot riding on its fall sportswear campaign and hopes to show the consumer that the company has returned to its roots of tried-and-true classics with a twist.
In fact, the company’s overall media budget this year has been sharply increased to $57.1 million from $44 million last year. For fall, $18 million will be earmarked for the women’s and men’s sportswear campaign that encompasses print, TV and outdoor.
Vintage Mustangs, diners and friends hanging out are the key components of the campaign, shot in Los Angeles. Hilfiger’s new image model is Angela Lindvall, who, until July 1, had been exclusive to Prada. Others in the campaign are Rhea Durham, Noemie, Theresa Lourenco, Jason Shaw and Tyrone Lee.
The print campaign highlights women’s and men’s sportswear, with a distinct emphasis on core products. The ads also feature licensed merchandise such as intimates, jewelry, handbags, footwear, men’s tailored clothing and men’s underwear.
One of the problems plaguing Hilfiger this year was that his collections strayed too far from their roots, creating slack demand on the selling floor.
In an interview this spring, Joel Horowitz, president and chief executive officer of Hilfiger, told WWD, “We need to stay tried-and-true to Tommy’s classic American attitude with a twist, which will always be what our product needs to represent. One of the reasons we’re in the jam we are in now is that we followed and ran after fashion as opposed to only using fashion as the sprinkles on top of the icing on the cake.”
A big concern was that Hilfiger would lose square footage as hotter brands and new names, such as Kenneth Cole and Nine West, were placed in the stores. Horowitz said he expects square footage in men’s and women’s to be “relatively flattish” this year as it reduces space in some stores and adds in others.
“I have a high level of optimism based on the retail feedback to our product lines,” said Horowitz. His “only hesitancy” is that past-season inventories will not be cleared until early fall, but he said improvements should begin to be seen at back-to-school and be “more meaningful” in holiday 2000 and spring 2001.
“The lesson we learned is that Tommy has his own look,” said Horowitz.
This marks the second campaign that Deutsch created for Hilfiger; the first being this spring’s ads that mixed American icons such as Marilyn Monroe, Natalie Wood and Humphrey Bogart with fashion shots.
“We think it [the new campaign] is more sophisticated, a little sleeker and more accessible,” said Celia Visconti, senior vice president of advertising at Hilfiger. “We’re a brand that’s very much about inclusivity.”
She said everything featured in the ads is available on the selling floor, unlike previous campaigns that showed icons and rock stars in their own wardrobes, mixed with models in Hilfiger apparel. Visconti said the fall ads still convey the brand essence, but it’s more subliminal. “It’s not so in your face.”
The ads show the models leaning on a Mustang and Thunderbird, sitting at a diner, talking and embracing each other. Among the key core items emphasized in the images are the khaki flat-front pant, the oxford shirt and poplin jacket. In addition, plaid — which was a big theme on the Hilfiger runways for fall — is evident in the campaign.
Print ads will run in the summer issue of V, and will appear in the August issues of magazines such as Vogue, W, InStyle, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, O, Jane, Glamour, Talk, Flaunt, Fast Company, the New York Times Magazine, Vanity Fair, GQ, Interview and Rolling Stone, among others. Images will also run on billboards on the West Side Highway and the corner of Crosby Street and Houston Street in New York, and on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood.
In addition, veteran music video director Paul Hunter created two TV spots: one for women’s sportswear and one for men’s sportswear. TV commercials will begin Aug. 1 on cable stations VH1, ESPN and Comedy Central, as well as spot buys on ABC, NBC, Fox, UPN and WB in New York.