Kenneth Cole plans birthday blackout blitz

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Kenneth Cole Productions will paint it black this September to tout its 20th anniversary.

Among the plans are a stark black-and-white print campaign shot by photographer Richard Avedon in more than 15 magazines and newspapers, an expanded event strategy at retail and a new men's fragrance, Kenneth Cole Black. The anniversary will also be feted at the simultaneous launch of a Kenneth Cole autobiography/advertising retrospective, "Footnotes."

The budget for the anniversary-marketing effort, handled in-house, is said to far exceed the $13 million TNS Media Intelligence/CMR reported Kenneth Cole spent in media last year. The thrust of it will be the minimalist Avedon campaign, which pokes fun at the idea of celebrating a 20th anniversary while featuring the clean-lined, iconic 20th anniversary collection of black-and-white clothing and accessories introduced in stores this fall for base label Kenneth Cole New York.

The four-page insert will run in September or October issues of such publications as Conde Nast Publications' Vogue, GQ and Lucky and Rodale's Men's Health. A 24-page version will likely run in newspapers, including The New York Times. Many publications are also expected to run editorial coverage and promotions around the anniversary.

To generate the anniversary buzz the brand is looking for, Kenneth Cole will run extensive promotions with major fashion magazines. While Lucky has only carried ads for Kenneth Cole's less-expensive casual line, Reaction, the hot shopping title will this September feature Kenneth Cole New York as the opening offer in its Lucky Breaks section, dangling shopping sprees for the anniversary collection. Along with the four-page insert in October, Lucky plans to send out an e-mail blast to receptive readers touting pieces from the collection.

"The 20th anniversary is a high point for [Kenneth Cole] and they want to generate a lot of attention around it," said Lucky Publisher Sandy Golinkin. Other plans include in-store merchandising events in Kenneth Cole stores as well as department stores across the country including Macy's, linked to Time Inc.'s In Style, Conde Nast's The New Yorker, Hearst Magazines' Marie Claire and Men's Health, as well as participation in GQ's Lounge Program event.

The new Kenneth Cole book, "Footnotes," published by Simon & Schuster, will reflect what Mr. Cole refers to as his "20 years of sole searching," taking readers behind the scenes of his socially conscious, irreverent ad campaigns. The book will be touted through a PR blitz that includes extensive coverage in women's magazines, a radio satellite tour and appearances on shows including NBC's "Today." The book will be featured in-store and at fashion week in New York, which will be kicked off by the Kenneth Cole fashion show Sept. 12.

`better in the dark'

Coty's Lancaster Group Worldwide division, which acquired the Kenneth Cole fragrance license from LVMH in early July, plans to launch Kenneth Cole Black in mid-August. The scent, targeted at more sophisticated Kenneth Cole customers than last year's Kenneth Cole New York Men, will be supported by a roughly $5 million print campaign bowing in September issues of such publications as Vogue and GQ featuring a man and a woman in a sexy embrace and the tagline, "It's better in the dark." Catherine Walsh, senior VP-marketing and American licenses for Lancaster, said the Black launch will tie in extensively with other Kenneth Cole 20th anniversary events.

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