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Calvin Klein Advertising Strategy Research Paper

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Updated: May 5th, 2020


“Brand” represents the emotional and the intellectual association developed by people, towards a given product, company or person. While brands may be used in a qualitative manner, the core meaning of the brand, which is often communicated through advertisements, lies under the subjective, unique, understanding and the interpretation of the brand (Stephanie, 2004; Aaker, 1996).

The meaning developed around a brand is guided by the social interactions and the cultural settings under evaluation, as well as the markets conception about the given product (Turow and McAllister, 2009). The science behind advertising relates to influencing and fashioning the thinking of consumers, which results in the development of the brand (Turow and McAllister, 2009). For the case of the advertising campaign regarding the redeveloped perfume by Calvin Klein, Eternity, the perfumed was first presented as a female perfume.

Next, a male version was launched through advertising campaigns (PRNewswire, 2012). The male version was later redesigned, and a women’s version of it introduced into the market through advertising. The first brand was Eternity, next was the male version, Eternity Aqua, and then came the female version, Eternity Aqua for women (Lauro, 2002).

This paper discusses the role of advertising in brand rejuvenation, where a product, which is almost reaching retirement, is brought into the market as a new and innovative brand (Turow and McAllister, 2009). The paper also explores the difficulties that come with advertising, as a brand rejuvenation strategy.

Calvin Klein expanded their ETERNITY perfume campaign, which is characterized by an insistence on intimacy and lasting love. The new advertising campaigns debuted internationally in February 2002. It consisted of four print models and two 30-second TV advertisements (PRNewswire, 2012). The commercials emphasize on the noteworthy interactions in family life. The TV advertisement featured family life scenes where Aimee Mann performs the song, “What the world needs is love.”

That was the first advertisement that used a song as the background, in the perfume commercials of Calvin Klein (Lauro, 2002). The print commercials show the quality moments shared within a family – featuring the label, “Love Sweet Love,” which is designed in a way that closely resembles the photos drawn from a family album (PRNewswire, 2012). According to PRNewswire (2012), Hilary Dart, the president of the cosmetics company reported that ETERNITY has been a product that communicates family, love and commitment.

With the new advertising campaigns, the company intended to incorporate new life-evolving and intimate messages and images to the original message (Lauro, 2002). From the many re-editions, including Eternity Aqua for women and that for men. The advertising campaign presented the brands as those that wrap with the casual charm, elegance, and the touch of mystery. The tastes include pink lady apple, which identifies with female consumers, and white peony, apricot and cucumber among others (Pekic, 2012).

Discussion in support of the study thesis

From the case of Calvin Klein, Eternity Aqua for women has shifted the market largely, which resulted from the earlier campaigns of 2002 and the new campaigns in the 2012. Just like the earlier marketing commercials, the re-done version of the male perfume to bring a female one presents the perfume as one that identifies with sophistication, mystery, and allure. Like the earlier versions of eternity, the new marketing campaigns present the new product as one that builds on the earlier perfume, whose theme revolves around love and family time.

Different from the earlier marketing campaign, the new commercial presents the product and its newer version as those that cut across the sex divide. Earlier on, the Eternity was marketed as a female perfume, and then later changed to mark a line of men, which was later redesigned to cover women customers. The advertising campaigns present the new perfume versions as those that identify with an aquatic aroma, which is similar to that from fresh flowers or woody surroundings.

The new marketing campaigns are different from many cosmetic advertisements, and features both male and female models. Notably, Edita Vilkeviciute and Ben Hill are female and the male models respectively in the marketing campaigns. The new campaign seeks to shift the insistence of the perfumes campaigns from the original versions, which sent the message that Eternity was a product for women. The new campaign portrays the value of the perfume for both men and women.

This cultivates the value of the redeveloped Eternity (Hill, 2001). For example, Edita is portrayed in the posters, as a lady with a very seductive look, which seeks to capture the appeal of different target market populations (Pekic, 2012; Wansink and Huffman, 2001). On the other hand, Ben Hill is used to portray the highly masculine value associated with the new product, which is projected to both potential and current consumers.

The new marketing strategy seeks to change the outlook of the consumer population from the original view that Eternity is a female perfume as the case had been after its market entry in the 1980s. Through the use of the two celebrities during the campaign for the perfume, the marketing team of Calvin Klein seeks to appeal to the varied fans of the two celebrities who are likely to develop an association to the executive nature of perfume, and its high class nature.

Through the insistence on new value, new class association and the new inclusion of earlier excluded groups mainly on the basis of gender, the brand is presented in an innovative manner (Wansink and Seed, 2001). The new innovative positioning of the perfume seeks to revive the earlier attachment of the product, which is likely to have been going down. This period of slowing product preference marks the retiring stage of the product in the market, which is corrected through the innovative re-designing of the product and its market positioning with the sole aim of expanding its consumption and affiliation (Pekic, 2012).

There are difficulties that come with the process of advertising as a brand rejuvenation strategy. This includes that it presents the aspect of real beauty as closely associated to the youthful nature of the models featured in the advertisement. The relatively youthful nature of the models tends to pass the message that the perfume is useful among the youthful, compared to the case where it would have been communicated as valuable to both the young and the aged.

Through the advertisement, the message may not be particularly clear. In this case, it does not offer emphasis to the real value aspect of a perfume, which is not directly related to their youthful nature, color, age or their dressing. Therefore, it is likely that the advertisement will communicate to the audience that the target consumers of the given brand includes the people that are over-processed, and not offering the product to all customer groups and classes (Pekic, 2012; Kapferer, 1997).

Audience analysis

The fact that the campaigns for the launch of the new product versions were done through TV and poster commercials show that the target population was the general population. However, regardless of the original positioning of the campaigns, towards the public, the advertisements were geared towards the youthful and the classiest groups. This is evident as none of the campaigns featured the children, or the aged (Turow and McAllister, 2009).

However, this will change in case they will launch a children’s or aged people’s line, as well as stage campaigns for the same. From an exploration of the campaign for the perfumes, it is apparent that Calvin Klein is pursuing females despite featuring male models. This is clear from the redesigning of the older female perfume into a male perfume, then redoing the male perfume to a female perfume a second time. Therefore, the campaigns do not communicate the underlying message of freeing the market of beauty stereotypes, where cosmetic companies and perfume sellers target the established female market, especially among the high class celebrity groups (Keller, 2005).

The advertisements connect to the potential market for the perfume, through the renowned models and provoking text and background music, which communicates the underlying value of love, family and intimate relationships. The issue in the current campaign is that, like many other campaigns, Calvin Klein uses the high class woman and man as their model, as opposed to portraying the value of the new product to the average man and woman. The underlying theme of love is expected to create an impact in the long term. This will be through capturing the attention of potential clients, as well as through developing a relationship between class status and the new perfumes (Wansink, Ray and Rajeev, 1994).

Analysis of the findings

Calvin Klein has developed a highly comprehensible image of the new perfume and the company through the advertising campaigns. They are demonstrating how accommodating their product development is through redesigning earlier products to make them accommodate the different gender. The company is communicating the message that they are fashioning products for men and women, though the different products may be closely related.

This advertisement worked for the company as it appeals to the rationale of people compared to appealing to their emotional aspect only. For instance, they imply that their perfumes can be redesigned to serve the different gender. The advertisements also communicate a sense of good values and awareness, including the inclusion of different sexes.

This is regardless of the potential market offered by the two sexes (Lauro, 2002). Thirdly, the campaigns are provocative as they emphasize the need for love, family relations and the contribution of human relations in the society. The underlying message is designed to appeal further than appealing to customers as it places emphasis on human values. Through the campaigns, the role of the company is also likely to change from one that seeks to do business to one that seeks to cause a major different within the society.

The failures of the advertisement include that, despite that the underlying message is vivid. There is a level of ambiguity in the advertisement. For example, by redesigning the perfume that had been redesigned for men from the female version, it shows that the company focuses more on female customers. In addition, the portrayal of youthful models in the campaigns leads to questions as to whether the perfumes are developed for all consumer groups, or for only the high calss, youthful groups.

The company also failed to engage the public through which they would grasp an idea of what their preferences would be, and what the new products would feature. An example is conducting a survey before launching and marketing the female version of Eternity Aqua (Lauro, 2002).

The campaigns should also have featured aspects that challenge the established advertising flaws such as products are positioned as they are reserved for given groups. In the current case, it appears that the perfume was developed for celebrities and classy, beautiful women alone. The images in the commercials also portray the model as highly brushed, which makes them appear more appealing, which sends the wrong message to the non-exquisite looking groups (Pekic, 2012).

Possible revisions of the campaign

A revision of the advertisements would require a number of changes, including that Calvin Klein should work on eliminating any textual ambiguities in the posters, which will help them attract better comprehension (Lauro, 2002). The adverts should also be developed in a manner that does not raise questions as to whether older and younger groups are included as target populations. The adverts should not communicate any ideas that are negative or contrary to the basic value of love and communicating social interactions.


The brand represents the emotional and intellectual relations drawn by consumers, towards a service, product or company in question. Despite the qualitative nature of a brand, the brand of a product or the company is based on the subjective view of customers, where advertising plays a major role in influencing the interpretation. Calvin Klein’s Eternity brand is characterized by an insistence on love and intimacy.

From the advertising campaigns of Calvin Klein, the company is developing products that are inclusive of different sexes. From the redevelopment of the new products, the company emphasizes on the value delivered, through appealing to the intellectual and the emotional aspects of consumers. Different from ordinary cosmetic campaigns, the campaigns feature men and women. The difficulties of brand rejuvenation through advertising include that it presents the beauty as closely related to youthfulness.


Aaker, D. (1996). Building strong brands. New York: The Free Press.

Hill, S. (2001). The Infinite Asset – Managing Brands to build new Value. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

Kapferer, J. (1997). Strategic Brand Management: Creating and Sustaining Brand Equity Long Term. London: Kogan Page.

Keller, L. (2005). Strategic Brand Management: Building, Measuring, and Managing Brand Equity, Second Edition. Delhi: Pearson Education Press.

Lauro, P. (2002, January 14). . The New York Times.

Pekic, S. (2012). .

PRNewswire. (2012). Calvin Klein Cosmetics Company launches a new global advertising campaign for Eternity Fragrances.

Stephanie, T. (2004). Perry Ellis banks on brand resurrections. Advertising Age, 75 (11), 14-14.

Turow, J., and McAllister, M. (2009). The Advertising and Consumer Culture Reader. New York: Routledge.

Wansink, B., and Huffman, C. (2001). A Framework for Revitalizing Mature Brands. Journal of Brand and Product Management, 10 (4), 228-242.

Wansink, B., and Seed, S. (2001). Making Brand Loyalty Programs Succeed. Journal of Brand Management, 8 (3), 211-222.

Wansink, B., Ray, M., and Rajeev, B. (1994). Increasing Cognitive Response Sensitivity. Journal of Advertising, 23 (2), 65-75.

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