Photo by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott for Calvin Klein
It’s official: Justin Bieber wields more social power than Kim Kardashian. According to WWD, Calvin Klein gained about 3.6 million Twitter followers after releasing the images of his first campaign, in which he poses Marky Mark style alongside Lara Stone. The controversial images dropped January 6 and the hashtag #mycalvins has been mentioned more than 1.85 million times and counting—approximately five times that of Kardashian’s attempt to #breaktheinternet. Not to mention the countless outlets that have covered the campaign’s evolution from its release to retouching rumors, and the epic Saturday Night Live parody.
The campaign images, shot by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott, are everywhere, and the story’s cycled in and out of conversation for two weeks—with no real end in sight. Each and every reference to the pop star’s partnership with the clothing company expands the ad’s reach to consumers that were previously unreached by Calvin Klein. And while they’re certainly not the first fashion brand to contract a celebrity face, it’s the first to have done so in such a successful manner in the age of social media. The command Beliebers have to influence the market is, to this point, untapped. Looking to the 20-year-old’s recent foray into fashion as a shining example of the potential a young, hot, controversial, idolized famous person has, there’s no doubt that models will be hard-pressed to find jobs in the future as the face of a label. (Much like how they were dropped from magazine covers once Anna Wintour realized how well celebrities sold.)
But it takes more than a devoted following of super supporters to garner as much traction as Calvin Klein has with this round of advertising. Taylor Swift, who only trails Bieber by a few million followers across her various social media accounts, hasn’t made Keds a must-have sneaker (yet); Lady Gaga’s Versace ads didn’t have the same longevity or sway over her Little Monsters (43.7 million followers strong on Twitter); and Britney Spears didn’t effectively persuade anyone to buy Candies footwear.
So what made Calvin Klein’s collaboration with Biebs such a success in comparison to his peers’ attempts at shilling products? It could be the pop star himself. People love him — as evidenced by his 59.4 million Twitter followers — but people also love to hate him. Calvin Klein’s marketing scheme could also have played a part: they teased the campaign for weeks and have continued to stoke the flame. But whatever it might be, it’s sure to be replicated in the future.
Beauty enterprises have already caught onto the “Pretty Young Thing" as spokesperson trend. Kendall Jenner was named Esteé Lauder’s ambassador and Gigi Hadid signed with Maybelline. These iconic brands have historically chosen people such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Elizabeth Hurley in the past, but have gone in a decidedly different direction with the models, who both started their careers on reality television.
It seems it’s only a matter of time before Harry Styles, Nash Grier, and Austin Mahone are fronting Chanel, Saint Laurent, and Prada.