Not since The Gap made the huge error of hiring Sarah Jessica Parker to be the spokesperson for its brand some years back has a major apparel brand made such a celebrity endorsement error as Calvin Klein. Parker who in her own day to day life is a frugal style maven was seen by consumers as her character...Carrie Bradshaw the struggling perpetually single NY writer who was obsessed with trying to afford expensive clothing brands and shoes and wouldn't be the slightest interested in The Gap. The Gap which had given Parker a multi-year contract dropped the campaign less than two months after it first aired.
Clearly needing PR attention the ailing CK underwear brand which has been losing marketshare to numerous other brands (Diesel, Emporio Armani for example) choice of Justin Bieber seems desperate.
It's been quite some time since Mark Walberg then Marky Mark donned the Calvins and forever changed the way men felt about being "exposed" in their underwear. He brought a tough, sexy, alpha male, muscular look to the campaign that has followed with many other good looking well built men over the past decades.
Being a Calvin Klein underwear model has been a trophy for a group of select men who have posed on multi block long billboards in Times Square in NY and in fashion magazines and on the side of public buses for years in nothing but their Calvins. A level of achievement for a guy whose look body and swagger made the brand the choice of women who wanted their guys to look rugged and sexy in their undies as well as both gay and straight guys with great abs who bought the underwear for themselves to show the results of their hard work in the gym.
The brand was about showcasing your "assets" and sexiness.
The choice of Bieber is surprising and not surprising. Surprising because the performer is more little boy (trying hard to be tough) than man, has a skinny body most men are not inspired to want (rumor has it they heavily photoshopped his body to make it more masculine looking), and appeals to huge legions of little girls not testostorone infused guys. His millions of internet fans makes him one of the most followed celebrities, however, upon inspection the vast majority of the followers are not the targets for Calvin Klein underwear. That is, unless, the brand is now trying to sell its men's underwear to little girls?
Not surprising because the CK brand has been in trouble for some time as the hot men's underwear market has grown substantially with numerous smaller sexier more exclusive offerings. This campaign has already proved to generate millions in free publicity...and they say any publicity is always good...however, a general perusal of comments online about this celeb choice appears to show a HUGE negative reaction to Bieber and vows by CK fans to stop buying this brand and move on to others.
In my professional opinion, I don't think this ad effort will generate the kind of sales long term that the company hopes. Maybe a spike short term but the brands (Bieber/CK) do not match. Bieber is not worthy of becoming part of the Calvin Klein underwear legacy because he brings nothing to the party that is consistent with the history of the brand.