Calvin Klein Says Sayonara to Print Ads


Calvin Klein will exit print in February and focus on a digital-first media strategy.

So long print. Magazine publishers have been informed that Calvin Klein will take a new “consumer-centric” marketing strategy that will see the brand shift to a “digital-first, socially amplified model, with video the preferred format.

“We will be exiting pure print advertising effective February 2019,” said a Calvin Klein note seen by WWD. The correspondence further stated that all future partnerships will be led by digital content and “we will only consider print pages as a complement to these programs.”

A spokesman for Calvin Klein Inc. didn’t respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

Last week, Emanuel Chirico, chairman and chief executive officer of PVH Corp., described disappointing results for Calvin Klein Jeans and Calvin Klein 205W39NYC collection on a third-quarter earnings call, and said that going forward, the company would seek to make both these lines more commercial, and shift to a digital media buy.

WWD also reported that chief creative officer Raf Simons’ role could be in jeopardy as the designer is in the midst of difficult contract negotiations.

Elaborating on results, Chirico explained that the marketing campaigns had been “too skewed” toward the company’s higher-end 205W39NYC line and the high-fashion consumer, and investments would be redeployed.

“Further, we will focus on driving a digital-first approach to the brand. Importantly, marketing is one of the faster levers that we can address. For holiday 2018, we are shifting more of our media spend from halo marketing to more commercial, digital and social media advertising,” Chirico said.

In addition, the company plans to update the frequency of its Calvin Klein posts on social platforms like Instagram, and they will be increasingly using micro influencers and hosting local activation to drive engagement, particularly with Millennials and Gen Z.

As reported, WWD learned that Glen Luchford would be shooting the spring ad campaigns, replacing Raf Simons’ longtime collaborator Willy Vanderperre. Klein’s ad campaigns have been shot by Vanderperre since Simons’ arrival. The fall 2018 campaign, for example, was shot on a rugged and remote landscape in Utah. The spring 2018 campaign featured more than 20 models shot in and around a weathered barn. The models carried totemic objects created by Simons’ collaborator, artist Sterling Ruby.

Kim Vernon, president of Vernon Co., a brand consultancy, and a former executive vice president, chief marketing officer of Calvin Klein Inc., shared her opinion on Calvin Klein exiting print.

“The way forward is not to be print heavy and print dependent. I think at this stage, there is still some relevance in some print. There are titles in the market that warrant keeping a presence there, albeit the ratio of print to digital should be dramatically changing. You need some element of higher-end print for certain generations that you might not have for Millennials and Gen Z. In the designer world, there’s still a good amount of high net worth population that shops designer. Why leave them behind?” Vernon said.

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