–James Mahoney, Razor’s Edge Communications

Every now and then, I find pearls floating in the tide of print advertising. These two, for example.

First is the Kiton ad, one of a series the company is running. I liked the whole look and feel of it right away, but didn’t know anything about the company.

I like it even better after doing a little research and learning that Kiton prides itself on its fabrics and the quality of the clothing it creates using them.

These ads work on multiple levels. First, they stand out both for their striking simplicity and for the visual puzzle: why the red dot covering the head? (At least, it’s red to my color-challenged eye.)

Beyond that, the more you look at one of the ads, the more attention to detail you see. There’s deep creative thought behind these.

More important, the first ad you see imprints visual clues that unmistakably identify every subsequent ad you see as a Kiton. In the sea of luxury-good advertising, you too often have to glance at the company name to see whose ad it is.

As I’ve mentioned before, one of the big creative questions is, “How can we indelibly link the company or product name to the creative idea?” Kiton’s campaign achieves this, not least by linking the red-dot head with the red dot on the Kiton i.

Incidentally, the dot over the head probably has an additional benefit for Kiton. Rates and residuals for models vary depending on the image used. Because the Kiton models are unidentifiable, their rate is likely lower than if we could see their faces. Small change in the larger scheme of things, but a benefit for Kiton nevertheless.

The other pearl is this ad for the Omega Seamaster Diver 300M. In case it’s not clear, the tuxedoed Daniel Craig is up to his chin in water. It’s a great visual that pays off the promise that the watch “will take you from the bottom of the sea, to the center of attention, and the top of the world.” Form and function married with fashion illustrated by a brilliant concept.

  • stevebaird

    Great post, thanks James — I hadn’t heard of Kiton before now, and readers will be happy to know that Ciro Paone S.P.A., the Italian brand owner, secured a stylized trademark registration for the Kiton mark, complete with the “red dot” above the letter “i” — more than thirty-five years ago: http://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=73342446&caseType=SERIAL_NO&searchType=statusSearch

    • James Mahoney

      Thanks, Steve. Nice to know that Kiton’s attention to detail extends to the housekeeping end of the business; e.g., the trademark. I’m happy to report that I need to publish only a few more posts and I’ll be able to afford a Kiton custom-made suit with my DuetsBlog royalties.

  • The Kiton ad, hate to say it, is terrible. Not that I don’t ‘like it’, but that it’s actually demonstrably bad work.

    Here’s why:
    1. The tagline is meaningless gibberish. Any product with nothing to say could have as its tagline “says it all.” That’s the definition of meaningless. Hormel Meats: That says it all. It’s not memorable, distinctive, emotional, remarkable…

    2. Kiton is perhaps the single most expensive line of men’s wear available at most department stores. There’s nothing in this ad that explains why that might be, and, unlike luxury goods (like watches or polo shirts), there’s nothing obvious about Kiton that you can show off to others. In other words, you’re buying expensive just for you. Why? Not clear. Does it mean you’re smarter or more discerning than other buyers? More deserving? Higher status? Not at all clear.

    3. The trope for fashion ads is a mix of “this model is better than you” and “you could be this model.” See yourself in our clothes. Alas, Kiton is saying, “you don’t matter, the model doesn’t matter, there’s no one wearing these clothes.”

    4. Successful ads create tension that causes forward motion. They create affiliation that leads to a feeling of safety, belonging, possibility. They create energy. What did this ad do?

    And, as a final test:
    a. did you go out and buy something they made?
    b. how much more would you pay for this brand now?
    c. what will you tell your friends? Or at least tell yourself?

    And as for James Bond, all I could think of was the inevitability of climate change as caused by our arrogance. At least I’ll know what watch to wear.

    • stevebaird

      James, sadly we don’t offer royalties here on DuetsBlog, instead we offer an engaging platform for discussion, where royalty does appear and join us from time to time — hello Seth and James! Given that financial reality, I’m sorry to say James, you’re on your own for how you might fund a set of Kiton threads, assuming Seth hasn’t haberdashed your hopes of getting into a Kiton suit.
      Seth, these are great insights and questions, I look forward to James’ response, as I continue to remain fascinated by the red dot, and we remain thankful for the generosity of what you have shared here.

    • James Mahoney

      Hi, Seth. Incisive and consistent with your philosophies, as always.

      Let me start by saying that at this stage, I’m not Kiton’s target audience, unless I can find a gem of theirs in the thrift store. So my admiration of the ad was from a purely creative point of view (and “getting more people to buy the stuff” is one element of that).

      In addition to goosing sales, luxury advertising has several purposes, among them: reinforce the existing customer’s self-congratulation of good taste; remain on the radar of target audiences; and introduce aspirational alternatives to newcomers.

      To my eye, this campaign meets most of those goals (and probably also meets the specifications of the creative brief). For example, the observation that there’s nothing obvious about Kiton that you can show off to others is probably a selling point that resonates with their typical buyer. It’s a counter-point to the visibly branded goods that often shout “Look at what good taste and money to burn that I have!”

      So I think you’re dead-on accurate in observing that you’re buying expensive just for you, to which I’d add, “because I know what I value and don’t need visible logos or bragging-rights markers that solicit confirmation of my good taste.”

      As far as creating forward motion, it achieved that in my case, not only introducing me to the brand, but also driving me to the website to find out more about it. Their website has volumes of well-done information that explains why Kiton costs what it does, and why that’s worth it.

      Again, from a strictly creative point of view, I think these ads do an excellent job of distinguishing Kiton from the crowd. They are unmistakably and immediately recognizable as Kiton’s, and for that reason alone, they reinforce brand awareness. They are also tastefully done, though that’s in the eye of the beholder.

      So, to your final test:

      a. I didn’t (yet) because I don’t need what they’re selling
      b. Rephrased: in the price range of such goods, I’d pop for Kiton if I liked the piece(s) because I now understand some of the reasons why it costs what it does
      c. To my friends, I say nothing about it. To myself, I’d say, “Damn, I look good in this.”

      We agree on the tagline.

      • well said, sir!

        • James Mahoney

          Thanks, Seth. And just so we’re clear, creative and marketing teams would be well served by bearing your observations in mind. I know my work has been better for it.