Fashion, Social Causes Mix in Kenneth Cole Digital Campaigns

Social rights. Hard times, Well being. Politics. Those are among the hefty themes of the multi-authored Awearness blog created by Kenneth Cole Productions and creative agency Electric Artists.

The blog brings to light some of the issues the fashion designer has stood for in the 25 years he’s been in business. “As an organization we’ve always had a social awareness skewed to the brand,” said Robert Genovese, vice president of media, marketing at Kenneth Cole Productions.

Over the years Kenneth Cole has participated in and created philanthropic organizations and activities; Cole is the chairman of the board of AIDS research organization amfAR. The brand is now trying to go a step further using the Internet and social media. “We never had the opportunity to make it a dialog,” said Genovese. “We haven’t had that opportunity to really engage in the conversation, and that’s what having the blog allows us to do.”

Authors for the blog will range from Kenneth Cole himself to artists, musicians, sports figures and activists. Expected contributors include New York Giants player Michael Strahan, Alan Cumming, Stanley Tucci, Alan Dershovitz, and Joey Pantoliano. Weekly commentary will come from singer KT Tunstall, Paper Magazine founder David Hershkovits,and Good Magazine founder Ben Goldhirsh.

The intent is to reach out to different people and different things, and content will take on different forms. “It’s people involved in things they are passionate about on the social side, it’s evolving. It could be a Q&A with them, it could be writing an essay, elaborating on a speech they made, or a platform or editorial,” said Marc Schiller, CEO and founder of Electric Artists.

Blog entries topics include posts on women-only buses in Mexico City, discussion around a CNN video of Angelina Jolie discussing Refugees outside of Iraq, looking into tainted drugs in China, and the post “Hacking Democracy” discusses the recent primaries in New York City where presidential hopeful Barak Obama received no votes in certain precincts.

Another recurring feature in the blog is Photo Finish. Photojournalists have the opportunity to post their work. “We asked them to tell the story behind the photograph, behind these great images that are out there,” said Schiller.

Kenneth Cole is separately running a video campaign featuring individuals from different walks of life modeling its clothes while talking about their lives. Models include an Israeli and Palestinian film director duo, a Sikh entrepreneur, a U.S. army soldier awarded a purple heart, and a gay Republican. The effort’s tagline is “We all walk in different shoes.”

In addition to the main Web site, the campaign includes a YouTube channel with three teaser videos. More videos will be added later.

To promote the blog, Kenneth Cole Productions will buy a mix of search and display ads, including traditional banner advertising on blogs. “[We’re] hoping to capitalize on people that look to blogs and contribute to blogs, and are part of that social networking community,” said Genovese.

While the campaign’s emphasis is on digital media, ads will run in national fashion magazines and in Wired and Good magazines, as well as on taxi tops, posters, and bulletin boards in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, and Miami.

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