The campaign got under way on Dec. 30 in Times Square with a rotating seven-panel billboard featuring model Niki Taylor, but will soon shift into high gear. Claiborne is preparing a full-blown outdoor and print campaign created by the ad agency Gotham Inc. It will break in March and asks the question: “1996: Are you dressed for it?”
In an interview last week, Al Shapiro, vice president of corporate marketing, said the black-and-white print campaign will break in the March issues of 22 women’s service and fashion magazines, including Vogue, which will run a 12-page insert. The other books, which range from Redbook to Harper’s Bazaar, will run from two- to four-page inserts.
On March 15, ads will appear on telephone kiosks, buses and bus shelters in six cities, including New York. They will be tailored to the various cities, Shapiro said. For example, telephone kiosks in New York will read: “This is the only phone on the block that works. Welcome to New York.”
Of course, there is always the possibility the phone might not work, but Claiborne didn’t appear to be overly concerned about that.
This ad blitz comes at a pivotal time for Claiborne, which is in the midst of a turnaround spearheaded by Paul R. Charron, president and chief executive officer. With earnings on the skids since 1993 and only starting to recoup last year, Charron has been on a campaign to increase the appeal of the brand and step up regular-price selling.
Claiborne has been scrambling to make over its beleaguered better sportswear lines — Collection, Lizsport and Lizwear — a category that accounts for about half of the company’s volume.
Claiborne didn’t launch its first ad campaign for apparel until 1992. It cost an estimated $6 million and featured many of the company’s divisions. It ran in 20 magazines and lasted just under two years.
The company, however, has been advertising its fragrances steadily. It plans to spend $7.5 million this year. Its beauty spending had fallen to between $3 million and $4 million from about $7 million four years ago.
“Virtually, everyone is aware of our target brand [Liz Claiborne],” said Shapiro. “What we need to do is enhance awareness of specific products. We are very diverse.”
The ads are product-specific, focusing on the versatility of Lizwear, Liz & Co., Collection and Lizsport, as well as its dresses and accessories. They include an 800 number that references stores.