Calvin Klein Kills Print Ads — Will Other Fashion Brands Follow Suit?

From the much-talked-about OG shoot featuring Brooke Shields to its #MyCalvins campaign, Calvin Klein boasts a long record of using elaborate print ads as part of its marketing strategy.

But the American fashion house is now going against tradition, announcing early this week that it is exiting print advertising starting in February.

In a memo viewed by FN’s sister publication WWD, Calvin Klein said that all future partnerships will prioritize digital content. “We will only consider print pages as a complement to these programs,” the label reportedly wrote. (Calvin Klein did not respond to FN’s request for comment.)

During its third-quarter earnings conference call, parent company PVH Corp.’s chairman and CEO, Emanuel Chirico, noted the underperformance of Calvin Klein, which offset gains from the Tommy Hilfiger and Heritage lines.

Chirico observed that Calvin Klein’s marketing campaigns have been “too skewed toward our higher-end [205W39NYC] line and the high-fashion consumer,” thus necessitating a new “digital-first approach.” The strategy will see the brand veer its media spend from halo marketing toward more commercial, digital and social media advertising, beginning with this year’s holiday shopping season.

“We have upped the frequency of our posts on social platforms like Instagram, and we are increasingly using microinfluencers and hosting local activation to drive meaningful engagement, particularly with millennials and Gen Z,” Chirico said.

The decision comes as no surprise to B. Riley FBR retail analyst Jeff Van Sinderen, who explained that a majority of today’s relevant brands are upping their concentration on digital marketing.

“Print circulation isn’t what it used to be. Brands just cannot get the reach that they’re aiming for,” he said. “It’s not one size fits all; most need to customize and find the right mix. At the end of the day, more marketing dollars will continue to shift in the direction of all things digital.”

As for whether other big names in fashion will follow suit, Van Sinderen added: “When leading brands make moves like this, it does have an impact on the industry; it makes others think about how they should be evolving. We have seen so many changes geared toward digital, and some of it is testing. It enables brands to figure out what works best for them and adapt accordingly. The entire industry will need to keep evolving.”

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