Calvin Klein Cosmetics Company

Author:Christine Minderovic

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1325 Avenue of the Americas, 34th Fl.

New York, New York 10019


Telephone: (212) 479-4300

Fax: (212) 479-4399

Web site:


Calvin Klein Cosmetics Company, a subsidiary of Coty, marketed fragrances under the name of Calvin Klein and cK. In August 1996 Paulanne Mancuso, CEO and president of Calvin Klein Cosmetics, announced the arrival of the latest cK unisex fragrance, cK be. The sequel to the company's extremely successful cK one, cK be was described as a "raceless, genderless, ageless, and shared statement." Each Calvin Klein ad campaign had its own characteristic image and its own particular target market. While the ads for cK one, Calvin Klein's first unisex fragrance, portrayed groups of young, multicultural, mostly androgynous urban men and women, the "cK be" campaign featured an intimate and raw close-up of the individuals within the cK one groups. According to Mancuso, "The 'cK be' campaign pulls you into these people's lives."

There were several similarities in the marketing of cK one and cK be, but the Calvin Klein marketers went further in launching cK be. The advertising of cK one involved images of sharing, groups, and similarities, whereas that of cK be was based on the idea of having the freedom to express oneself while living among a group and about the values and the lifestyles of the generation being portrayed. Whereas cK one was billed as "a fragrance for a man or a woman," cK be was described as "the new fragrance for people."

The ads, which were the creation of Calvin Klein's in-house advertising agency, CRK Advertising, were shot by the photographer Richard Avedon. He featured both well-known and unknown subjects in the commercials and black-and-white portraits. The portraits were paired with "be" statements such as "Be good. Be bad. Just be" and "Be shy. Be bold. Just be." Some magazines ran multipage ads in which the first page was all black with the statement "to be" printed in white. The next page or two contained only black-and-white portraits, while the last page, which also was black, had the words "or not be" printed in white. The last page was also accompanied by a portrait and a pull-apart scented tab.

Avedon took care to portray his models as real, imperfect people. He had the models look directly into the camera as if they were speaking revealingly and intimately about themselves. Most of the models were unusual looking, with many having tattoos and body piercings, and some appeared unkempt. In short, they did not fit the fashion industry's idea of all-American beauty, the type that usually graced slick magazine ads. Perhaps the most recognizable spokesperson for the "cK be" campaign was the model Kate Moss, who bared all of her blemishes and freckles while she also bared her soul. The photograph of Stacey McKenzie emphasized unforgettable lips, freckles, and hair. Other subjects included Theo Kogan, a member of the alternative band Lunachicks; Jason Olive, a popular African American

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model; and Vincent Gallo, a musician, actor, and writer and director.

The text of the ads was equally provocative. The guitarist Billy White announced, "I find whatever's in my mind is better kept up there. You know what I mean?" In one of the longer ads for cK be a young man told viewers, "You could get hurt. You could get sick. You could do all these things, and if you don't have intimate relationships that are strong, you're really alone. But alone is something I know how to do. Intimacy comes and goes. Alone is forever. Be single. Be plural. Just be." The androgynous female Felix N'Yeurt proclaimed, "I never have to wait in line for the...

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