Calvin Klein’s Racy Ads Spark Backlash

Calvin Klein 1
Calvin Klein is no stranger to stirring up controversy. With their history of overtly sexual advertisements – mainly during the ’90s, the brand truly takes “sex sells” to heart when it comes to promoting their image. Given their recent surge in popularity, primarily among Millennial consumers, it seems like their controversial tactics may be working.

 

One of the keys to Calvin Klein’s success is directing their advertising efforts towards Millennials through collaborations with pop culture icons such as Kendall Jenner, Justin Bieber, and Nick Jonas. However, the brand is currently under fire for their newest ads, that many argue are overly explicit and provocative.

 

Calvin Klein 2In one photo, 23-year-old Danish actress Klara Kristin is seated on a couch, legs open, and the copy reads, “I seduce in #mycalvins.” Probably the most controversial of the campaign is the up-skirt shot of Kristin, accompanied by the copy that reads, “I flash in #mycalvins.” Outraged by these racy advertisements, people are turning to social media to express their concerns: do the ads promote and perpetuate misogyny, peeping toms, pornography, sexual harassment and rape culture? Many would agree that they do.

 

 

However, some argue that the ads express a unique empowerment through the first person point of view. The line, “I ___ in #mycalvins,” conveys a sense of autonomy that gives the subject a voice and the power of decision. Kristin actually defended the photo in an Instagram post with the caption, “I love this photo @harleyweir took of me… all this discussion about it makes me think about how alienated and scared some people are to the female human body. Be and love yourself and your sexuality #girlpower.” Kendall Jenner has also voiced her opinion on the campaign. In behind-the-scenes footage that Calvin Klein posted on their Instagram, Jenner answers how she would define a strong woman: “I think a strong woman is independent, don’t need no man, can like walk into a room by herself and not be bothered and can go anywhere by herself and not need a million people around her–I think that’s a really strong woman.”

 

Calvin Klein 3Amidst the heated debate, people cannot seem to agree on whether these ads are positive or negative. However, I believe that they’re neither one nor the other, but instead more complex in nature. On one hand, they can certainly serve as statements of empowerment and bodily ownership. Calvin Klein may be trying to make the statement that society should not be afraid to openly express sexuality. However, we cannot disregard in our analysis the historical objectification and hypersexualization of women in the media and its effect on society today. There’s the running critique that some women take their objectification upon themselves and mistake it for empowerment. I agree with this opinion to some extent, but I think the key here is balance. Yes, women can certainly feel powerful and confident by expressing their sexuality and celebrating their bodies. However, we should also feel empowered by the many other facets of our identities, because we are more than just sexual beings.

 

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How adidas Leapt from Athletic Style to Street Style

stansmith

As a twenty-something with an interest in fashion and pop culture, I like to think I am always up on the latest trends and “in the know.” Therefore, it was a huge surprise to me when adidas apparel burst back on the scene a couple of years ago, seemingly out of nowhere. And at the forefront of the new adidas fashion wave was the Stan Smith tennis shoes. These white tennis shoes were popping up everywhere, replacing the neon Nike running shoes that (literally) ran the show my freshman and sophomore years of college. I was extremely interested in this adidas takeover and decided to trace this trend back to its roots.

 

The rise of the Stan Smiths can be attributed to the marketing genius of Jon Wexler, adidas Global Director of Entertainment and Influencer marketing. It seems as if the return of these sneakers was a calculated marketing move by the adidas team way back in 2009. They decided to revamp the classic Stan Smith tennis sneaker in a way that would appeal to Millennials. An article by The Guardian discusses this marketing strategy and states that Wexler “pretty much confirmed everything Miranda Priestly says in the legendary cerulean blue Gap jumper monologue in The Devil Wears Prada… He describes the Stan phenomenon as ‘the classic model of a trend continuum actually working.’” Which basically means, for those who haven’t seen The Devil Wears Prada, that the fashion industry leaders start trends by putting their products in the hands of trendsetters. These trendy individuals are being watched by the masses and once they are spotted wearing a new brand, it immediately becomes popular.

 

Wexler chooses who will represent adidas based on if they are authentic and if their actions align with the adidas brand. He stated in an interview with Complex that adidas looks for “people who are creative and groundbreaking, who set trends and forge their own paths and are not afraid of what people are going to say about that. Obviously the people [adidas works with] are iconic, because it is the most iconic brand in the world.” Wexler knew that he had to showcase the revamped Stan Smith sneaker with some of the most influential and iconic personnel in the fashion industry. He decided to entrust this task to Phoebe Philo, the creative director of Celine. He put the sneakers on her more-than-capable feet and the rest was history. When Philo wore Stan Smiths as she came out for the end-of-fashion-show bow during 2010 Paris Fashion Week, a trend was born. Philo was also one of Time’s Most Influential People in 2014 so that just emphasizes how putting the Stan Smiths on her feet was the best move adidas could make.

 

YMC Blog Image 3Since the reveal of the new sneakers in 2010 things have been looking good for the Stan Smiths and adidas as a whole. In 2013, Gisele graced the cover of Paris Vogue wearing nothing but Stan Smiths. In 2014, A$ASP Rocky and Pharrell Williams both made custom Stan Smiths. North West was also spotted wearing a pair of the sneakers, displaying the influence of the Kanye West-adidas partnership. The impact of adidas’ partnering with some of the biggest names in the industry is huge. These individuals have the ability to start a trend with one photo. Wexler discussed this stating, “When Kanye shows up in GQ wearing Pure Boosts or Stan Smiths, I’ve got to assume there is an impact [on sales].”

 

YMC Blog Image 4As for me, I purchased my first pair of Stan Smiths in the spring of 2015. I wore them with dresses, skirts, jeans, overalls…you name it. I was already known as the girl who was always wearing sneakers anyway, I just made the transition from Converse to adidas. Converse used to be my go-to sneaker but I, like most Millennials, have traded in basketball sneakers for tennis sneakers and Chucks for Stans. I was wearing my Stan Smiths over the summer on the New York City subway going to Brooklyn. A guy sitting across from me gave me a little head nod and mumbled, “Cool Smiths.” If a random hipster in Brooklyn compliments your sneakers, you know they’re cool. The innate coolness of the Stan Smiths was widely accepted by 2015 and adidas certainly took the chance to capitalize on this new image of their brand.

 

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The Three Stripe Journey by Heather Luce

My name is Heather Luce and I am a proud alumna of the University of Louisville. Throughout my college career, I have held numerous positions and worked for some of the most talented people in sports. However, one opportunity completely changed the trajectory of my career: the adidas Student Brand Ambassador Program. As an adidas Student Brand Ambassador, I led a team of the most talented, dedicated, and innovative students at Louisville. Our mission was to #OwnTheCampus, and we did just that.

 

adidas brand ambassadors promote the brand on campus

 

During the past two years, our team has won the Best Social Media Team and the Best Overall Team back-to-back. Our tremendous success throughout the program simply would not have been possible without the Program Strategists at YMC. They are our coaches and our biggest motivation. During the first year of the program, my Strategist was Jose Colchao, who is now my mentor and great friend. Jose has always made time to coach me on interviews, provide feedback on my resume and cover letters, and give me career advice. I would not have experienced that level of success had it not been for Jose’s mentorship.

The adidas Student Brand Ambassador Program opened doors for me that I never could have imagined. My senior year, I earned a position as an adidas Marketing Assistant with the University of Louisville Athletic Department. I was able to do incredible things like travel to Portland to tour adidas village and meet the executives of adidas. In March, my dream came true when I was offered a position as an NBA Team Services Specialist with the adidas Sports Licensed Division.

 

college brand ambassadors hold the adidas flag

 

As I reflect on my college career and prepare for the future, I believe these are the three keys to success in sports.

 

Networking

We’ve all heard the saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” I believe that who you know gets you there and what you know gets you further. Shake as many hands as you can. Surround yourself with positive people who empower you. Remember names, send thank you notes, and make lasting first impressions. A recommendation letter from the right person can make all the difference in the world.

 

Experience

Millions of people want to work in sports. At the end of the day, the candidate with the best skills and experience is going to get the job. Internships are critical. Volunteer for everything you possibly can. Learn how to market yourself. Your resume and cover letters should make employers thrilled to meet you to learn more about how you can help their company.

 

Want it more than anyone. Work harder than everyone.

Your work ethic is one of the most important aspects of your personality. We see athletes all the time with all the potential in the world, but they lack the determination or work ethic to be the best. You have to outshine everyone else. Don’t just do what is expected of you. Go the extra mile. Exceed expectations and be the greatness that you want to achieve.

 

college brand ambassador wearing the adidas brand at graduation

 

Want to learn more about Heather and follow her journey? Follow her on Twitter or Instagram[email protected]_Heather or email her at [email protected].

 

Gift This, Not That – 2014 Edition

By now you’ve survived Thanksgiving doorbusters, Black Friday crowds, Small Business Saturday strolls, Cyber Monday distractions, and are putting your focus towards holiday gifting. The only thing more stressful than those four crazy “shopping holidays” is trying to figure out what the young 20-somethings in your life really want. But don’t panic just yet, because YMC has you covered.

 

Step into the mind of a millennial this holiday season and avoid any gifting pitfalls. The YMC team surveyed over 250 college students to find out their gift-related wants, needs, and preferences this holiday season. Here’s what we found out: As it turns out, millennials aren’t too different than past generations. They have their own fashion identity that closely aligns with their lifestyle and individual personality. They like having the freedom to choose, with 36% of respondents saying cash is their most needed gift. Millennials are also practical when it comes to selecting gifts for one another, preferring to shop at retailers that offer variety like Urban Outfitters and Amazon, and recommending gifts that are universally appreciated, like makeup.

 

Hopefully our findings will save you some time this holiday season, and put a smile on the face of your favorite gift-worthy millennial. Happy holidays!

 millennial holiday gift guide infographic

Millennial Guide to Fashion: Dress Dynamic

“Normal” isn’t part of the YMC team’s vernacular. As a matter of fact, “normal” is the last word we’d use to describe both ourselves & our network of collegiate influencers, which is why we’re not all that surprised that the “Dress Normal” campaign Gap launched this Fall hasn’t been a sartorial sensation – and that’s putting it nicely.

 

Dress Dynamic - Dress Normal Example

 

In August, Gap released photos of celebrities – like Hollywood powerhouse Angelica Houston and Girls favorite Zosia Mamet – layered in basic, black staples and unassuming outwear. Each snapshot was emblazoned with the brand’s iconic square logo and the head-scratching catchphrase, “Dress Normal.” Other images encourage shoppers to wear “simple clothes for you to complicate,” and opt to “let your actions speak louder than your clothes.”

 

Dress Normal Example 2

 

The truth is, if given the choice between complicated clothes and a complicated life, we’d wear mixed prints and 17 necklaces any day of the week. As millennials, we’d rather our clothes reflect our actions as opposed to muting them.

We’re the 23-year-old, ambitious, and painfully unique women of YMC. We’re here to rise to the occasion and dress for it. Below, learn how the way we dress enhances our dreams, our ­­­agenda, and our determination.

 

YMC suggested ad for Gap to dress for the weekend

alternative Gap ad by YMC says dress seasonally

alternative Gap ad by YMC says dress festive

alternative Gap ad by YMC says dress for adventure

alternative Gap ad by YMC says dress spirited

 

A Few Thoughts for Nine West

This week, Nine West shared a rather interesting/warped/mid-century parallel between women and footwear. The brand believes that the ladies of 2014 require shoes that fit only one of two occasions – husband hunting (because, let’s face it, every hunk loves a chunky kitten heel) or early parenting (yeah, let’s try to balance mommy-hood on a 4-inch spike stiletto).

 

Nine West husband hunting ad

 

Nine West fails to realize that today’s 20-something-year-old gal is racing against the clock – and not just the biological one. We’re also on-the-prowl for a 4.0, prized internships, a dream job, and success – no husband required.

 

tweet to Nine West about husband hunting

 

So, Nine West, enjoy a portal into the real footwear needs of millennial women. Oh, and rest assured, the shoes we need are already in our closets – and we found them on sale.

 

new ad campaign for Nine West with shoes for the real world new ad campaign for Nine West with shoes for interviews new ad campaign for Nine West with shoes for exploring the world new ad campaign for Nine West with shoes for being a champion new ad campaign for Nine West with shoes for making the world your playground

How Visa Sought to Capitalize on Heartbreak… and Lost

Visa ad after WorldCup loss was a marketing failure

 

Over the last few weeks, the world was captivated by one of the greatest events on the planet‒the World Cup Finals. An international tournament held only once every 4 years, the World Cup brings the world’s greatest soccer (football) teams together to compete for the title of World Champion. As with most international events, brands and marketers entered their own tournament, competing to best engage the game’s global audience. Among the hashtags and viral videos, Visa’s Twitter post at the end of Brazil’s devastating 1-7 loss to Germany stood out for all the wrong reasons.

 

Visa’s attempt at real-time marketing failed when they tried to capitalize on a Brazilian nightmare. The marketers behind that tweet seemed to lack an understanding of the passion and dedication around the World Cup and soccer in general, and subsequently lacked the empathy to be human at such a crucial moment.

 

The first mistake was a Marketing 101 failure‒fully understand your topic and audience. In this case, the essence of the sport. Soccer represents the competition, commitment, sacrifice, and work ethic that many sports share, but the major thing that sets it apart is the global nature of the sport. This is evidenced by the countless pick-up games that can be found in the farthest corners of the world. It’s one of the closest things we have to world parity, where small nations like Haiti and Tahiti can compete against giants like Spain and the US. The men and women that wear their country’s colors represent the pride and joy of entire nations. Respect and brotherhood are qualities universally shared among athletes and fans, and give this beautiful game its heart and soul. Visa failed to understand that. If they had, they would have known that a competitor does not pour salt on a fresh wound, but rather picks his brother up.

 

World Cup players comfort opponents after loss

Following Colombia’s devastating loss to Brazil in the quarter-final round of the tournament, Brazilian players David Luiz and Danny Alves console Colombian rival James Rodriguez.

Even worse than not understanding the game, the creators of this tweet used poor judgment by attempting to capitalize on a very human emotion‒heartache. You don’t need to understand soccer to recognize the grief written across the faces in the stands. The Selecao, the Brazilian national team name which is literally translated to mean “the selected”, represents one of Brazil’s most treasured gifts to the world. Like artists or scientists, these maestros embody the skills and spirit of an entire nation. To see these men being destroyed and broken down in their home country as the host nation is enough to make the strongest man cry.

 

Brazilian World Cup player David Luiz

 

David Luiz is unable to control his emotions during his post-game interview.  ‘I just wanted to make my people happy…..I’m so sorry to the Brazilian fans….I just wanted to see the Brazilian people smile.’

 

 

 

Was the world stunned at the end of the Germany vs. Brazil game? Absolutely. Was the look of devastation on that child’s face a powerful image? Of course. But was it enjoyable to see? No. It was painful! As marketers, we are entrusted to represent a brand in a positive light, and the best are able to do so in a meaningful way. Visa failed to project its brand positively, potentially alienating the very people it sought to engage.  The biggest failure was not truly understanding what that moment meant to the millions of Brazilian fans across the globe. We recommend taking a lesson from one of the German victors, who enjoyed his country’s victory with a touch of class.

 

tweet about Brazilian World Cup loss

German and Arsenal star, Mesut Ozil, sends an inspiring message to the Brazilian people.