Calvin Klein’s spring campaign, directed and photographed by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott, features a cast of global stars such as Jennie Kim of Blackpink, Kendall Jenner and FKA Twigs, as well as Michael B. Jordan and Aaron Taylor-Johnson in their debut campaign for the brand.
The campaign continues the “Calvins or Nothing” concept, which focuses on the sensuality and confidence of the diverse talent.
“We’re on a journey of elevation. We benefit greatly from incredibly strong brand equities,” said Jonathan Bottomley, global chief marketing officer of Calvin Klein Inc., who joined the brand last June. “A lot of the opportunity is to crystallize what the brand has always stood for, but to do it in a way that feels right for the culture of today.”
Bottomley was interviewed last week about how he views his role in a constantly changing advertising environment and culture. He said what they’ve tried to do is focus on the “values of the brand.”
“Calvin himself always talks about this positive tension, which I think he saw within himself. On the one hand he was a minimalist, he stripped things away and wanted to reveal beauty and he wanted to do that in service to the way people live. On the other hand, he was a non-conformist and a rebel and that’s a pretty potent, different mix. How do you bring that image to life in the culture today? That’s what we’re trying to do,” said Bottomley, who earlier was chief marketing officer at Boll & Branch and before that was global chief marketing officer at Ralph Lauren. He also worked at various agencies, including BBH in London and Virtue, the creative arm of Vice Media.
Bottomley said his goal is to have powerful visual stories and hire talent that can cut through and engage with the audience the brand is going after, in addition to having emblematic product.
For the past six months, the company has focused on underwear and denim, but in the future it plans to re-embrace some of the things that Calvin has stood for in the past. Bottomley couldn’t give details since parent company PVH Corp. is in a quiet period before releasing earnings in April.
He said if they can cut through with the jeans and underwear, it will trickle down to all the different assortments that the brand sells.
“The benefit we have is we are an incredibly powerful brand, up there with some of the biggest brands in the world,” he said. It’s crafting that image for today, and using that opportunity, with modern digital media that matters the most to their consumers, he said.
Asked if it’s harder to break through these days, Bottomley said, “If you get the right talent and the right image, it feels authentic to the brand. And then you build the right story around it.”
For example, Michael B. Jordan was on Jimmy Kimmel’s show earlier this month and it becomes a story across entertainment media. Although they lined it up with the launch of “Creed 3,” Jordan talked about the Calvin Klein Underwear campaign and showed a giant billboard. “If we get our mix right as a really powerful brand, it works,” he said.
Jordan’s billboards went up Feb. 27 on Houston Street in New York and La Cienega Boulevard in Los Angeles, and the images also ran on Calvin Klein’s social channels.
Bottomley said Calvin Klein has a diverse mix of consumers whom they want to engage across cultures and geographies. “There’s a broad audience to talk to. Calvin is about sensuality. But beyond that, it’s about provocation. It’s about confidence.…You put your Calvin’s on and you feel ready, you really are out there,” he said.
“The opportunity of this group of people [the campaign’s talent] is to show there really is a diversity of expression through the lens of the brand. Jennie looks different than Twigs, Twigs look different from Kendall. There’s something very true about who they are. As a body of work, you’ve got that diversity, but you have that sense of who Calvin is today,” he said.
Bottomley said they are all shot individually, and not shot as a group. “That’s deliberate. That idea of one campaign moment and it’s gone doesn’t feel right for a culture of constant engagement.” Each of the participants also promote the brand on their social media.
The campaign was shot in Los Angeles. Advertising will run in key cities around the world, incorporating billboards, digital, social, paid social and microinfluencers.
Bottomley has found that people want to spend time with the brand. “Being very intentional about how you entertain, how you engage and how you take your story where they’re hanging out is a super important way of cutting through,” he said. “Everything’s measurable now, art and science, the science part is super important. We’ve seen a real positive uplift in results in terms of reach, engagement, sense of conversation by followers across social platforms the last six months.”
Bottomley said they like to tie in with activities that the talent is engaging in, such as supporting Jordan’s appearances with “Creed 3,” or FKA Twig’s music launches.
The campaign channels the true character of each talent. For example, Jennie embraces minimalism and is seen in her most stripped back state; Jenner reveals her more intimate side, and FKA Twigs epitomizes artistry, debuting a new unreleased track in the campaign alongside visuals that capture her distinctive movement. Both Jordan and Taylor-Johnson evoke confidence.
The talent is dressed in the latest Calvin Klein Underwear and Jeans, and they introduce a wide range of styles for the season. For example, Jordan and FKA Twigs are showing off the new athletic and modern cotton performance offerings, while Jennie is wearing the new Modern Cotton bralette. Also in Underwear are the new sensual lace options such as Sheer Marquisette and the Geo Lace triangle bra, as seen on Jennie and FKA Twigs.
In jeans, the denim styles are refreshed with new washes and ’90s-inspired silhouettes as seen on Taylor-Johnson, Jenner and Jennie, as well as a new sculpted denim bra and ultra-high cropped wide-leg jeans, worn by Jenner.
The campaign launches Wednesday with additional extended content rolling out on Calvin Klein’s Instagram channel, @calvinklein, throughout the week.