Adds Recording Label, Radio Station and Beachside Music Bar

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BUENOS AIRES -- In an effort to break away from the pack, Argentina clothing chain Kosiuko is moving away from traditional forms of advertising to
Above is Kosiuko's new KSK music bar on the beach; below is a view of the company's upscale retail line.

turn itself into a national entertainment company that sells apparel.

Working with FiRe Advertainment, a branded entertainment content developer back by Omnicom Group's DDB Argentina, the clothing company has stopped seeking to endorse musicians and instead has embarked on an effort to create its own national pop stars. After launching a record label, a radio station and chic usic bar, it is now planning the launch of its own Latin American cable TV channel with a content mix similar to that of E!, Fashion TV and MTV.

'Communicating 24 hours'

One aim of the strategy is steady exposure. "Kosiuko has moved beyond 30-second commercials. It is now communicating 24 hours," said Rodrigo Figueroa Reyes, head of FiRe and a partner in Kosiuko's entertainment ventures. "This is entertainment that reaches people and enforces the avant-garde and break-away image of Kosiuko."

Kosiuko is one of Argentina's three largest clothing companies. It operates 180 retail outlets in Argentina and 30 elsewhere in Latin America. It also exports to clothing retailers in the U.S. Focused on fashion-conscious youth and young adults, the marketer is best known for its higher-priced brand, racy advertisements and an iconic oriental symbol that looms above all of its corporate communications.

Started 11 years ago by husband and wife Federico
Above is Kosiuko's new KSK music bar on the beach; below is a view of the company's upscale retail line.

Bonomi and Cynthia Kern, Kosiuko suffered mightily during Argentina's 2001-02 social chaos and financial collapse. After the Argentinean economy stabilized and began to grow again, the company sought new ways to boost its image through associations with entertainment celebrities. In one effort, it sent 50 garments to pop star Britney Spears, who wore some of them in her "Overprotected" video and at shows. But, overall, the impact of such public relations efforts was fleeting.

World competition

Its line of urban and retro styles competes against local fashion labels and foreign brands such as America's Levi's and Spain's Zara that have also stepped up advertising to capture business in a growing economy.

So in 2003 the company began a dramatic reorganization designed to expand its operations in a manner that would make it a mainstream Argentinean entertainment and media company whose music products would capture the attention of teen and college-age consumers.

One of its goals was to create a new sort of hybrid
Above is Kosiuko's new KSK music bar on the beach; below is a view of the company's upscale retail line.

store where consumers could buy clothes and music albums, have a drink and listen to live DJs.

Retaining FiRe Advertainment, it started KSK Radio, a radio station with a mix of dance, indie, jazz and other sounds, plus a lineup of well-known DJs. At the end of last year, it opened KSK Bar in Punta del Este, a beach town in Uruguay popular with Argentina's fashion-conscious middle and upper classes.

This year it broke out the record label KSK Records with a dance compilation of Argentinean DJs. The second signing was the group Capri's debut album, Mama Killer Night, a mix of dance, funk and 1980s rock. Its front man, Ariel Aguisky, has now become a face of Kosiuko, maybe more real to shoppers than ads featuring tall, skinny models.

Expect to become a music icon

"Without a doubt, we expect that Capri will in time become an icon of [Argentina's] young pop culture," FiRe's Mr. Reyes says. "And Kosiuko consumers are into him because they spot ahead of time what others take longer to see."

Kosiuko is gaining recognition for its media products. Its music video for Capri's song "Otelo Paradise" -- the first ever to have five episodes, airing Monday to Friday on Latin American MTV -- has received best video nominations for the MTV Video Music Awards Latino America, to be held Oct. 21 in Miami.

What's more, it is boosting income. KSK Radio's advertisers now include Coca-Cola, Phillips and Argentina's biggest brewer, Quilmes, and all are keen to reach Kosiuko's young, trendy customers. It is selling CDs at its stores, as well as in traditional record stores.
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