Calvin Klein kicks up a stink

Martin Loat

Calvin Klein’s CK Denim campaign has surely gone further than its creators intended in hitting the headlines worldwide, such as “Calvin Klein makes ‘offensive’ ads pay” (MW September 8). The publicity has generated volumes of media coverage and increased the profile of the brand far beyond the dreams of the advertiser. Although the moralists may moan, I suspect the young target market are not among them.

If Calvin Klein’s marketing was contrived to create such controversy, then we are witnessing a militant strategic campaign where PR is being used to fuel a fire of international outrage and sell a wagon-load of denim.

If it wasn’t planned, then Calvin Klein has failed to recognise how his marketing dollar would stretch further if he intended for his ads to make news. It cannot be sound marketing sense to let such worldwide exposure run away unplanned.

Whether it was contrived or not, Calvin Klein will survive the moral backlash. Other marketers should recognise the power of planning and creating a potentially controversial ad to make news worldwide. The PR potential of ads should be factored into their inception, and not ignored until it is too late.

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