Tommy Hilfiger Inc. Nitzan Ackner, Director of Advertising

Tommy Hilfiger Inc. Nitzan Ackner, Director of Advertising Dear Advertising Employees, Because of unforeseen circumstances, we have just discovered th...
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Tommy Hilfiger Inc. Nitzan Ackner, Director of Advertising Dear Advertising Employees, Because of unforeseen circumstances, we have just discovered that we have been allotted just one slot (instead of the planned three) in Seventeen magazine’s upcoming May 2003 issue. This means that we must choose only one of the three ads that we created last month to send to Seventeen’s layout manager. As you know, we designed these ads in order to complement each other—they feature different models, sell different Tommy products, and serve different audiences. Now, we must decide which of the three is the most important, and will help sell the most products for our company. I have assigned Mark Johnson, head advertising consultant, to the final decision. Hilda Jensen, one of the creators of the “beach” ad, has already approached me asking to represent her case for this ad. I will also put the question to our company lawyer, Derek Holloway, in order to inform Mark Johnson of the legal aspects of the decision. Finally, I have asked Melissa Chavez, our sales advisor, to comment. Anyone else who feels strongly about one of the ads, or has an interest in any of the three, should write directly to Mark Johnson with their opinions. I trust that he will take all viewpoints into account in order to make the best judgment. In addition, we are hoping to run the three ads as a series in the June issue of Seventeen, so if you worked on one of the two ads that doesn’t get chosen for this month, please don’t feel that your hard work went to waste. Please see me with any questions or concerns; I’ll be happy to meet with you. Thanks for your flexibility,

Nitzan Ackner

Dear Mark , My name is Hilda Jensen, and I worked on the “sex,” ad (it is not about a beach, it is about sex!) for this month’s issue. I have looked at the other two ads and believe that my ad is the one that will reach out to teenage girls most and encourage them to buy Tommy products the most. I mean, just look at it! Let me tell you what the typical teenage girl is thinking when she sees this ad. Not only have I done extensive research on this target demographic, but I was once a teenage girl myself, and even that alone gives me an understanding that most men don’t have about how to sell to young females. When I was a young girl flipping through the pages of Seventeen, I always romanticized about that “tall dark stranger” who would sweep me off my feet. This ad is a perfect embodiment of the young girl’s dream. The ad is sexy—the couple is on the beach, wet, and covered with sand, suggesting that a playful moment just turned into something more. The ocean waves are behind them—it is a romantic setting, yet they are engrossed completely in each other and do not seem to care about their surroundings. They are attractive people—she is tan, long arms, long hair that falls in his face, he is dark and muscular (which we focus on because of his wet shirt). Her dress strap is falling slightly off her shoulder, suggesting that she is comfortable and not self-conscious; it is also a hint of what might come. In addition, we can see that the power in this sexual situation is divided equally between the lovers—usually it is the male with all the power, making girls seem like second class at the mating game. At first glance we even think that the female is the seducer: she is on top, reaching down to kiss him, firmly placing her hand on his hip as an anchor. But then we see that he is meeting her halfway—his head is lifted and his arms are on her neck drawing her in. This is something that we designed carefully, for it will give the teenage girl a sense of empowerment while also making it seem like relationships and sex are about mutual respect and longing. The lovers are about to kiss—it is an eternal moment that the young girl will dream of in her sleep later that night after flipping through Seventeen. And in this moment, we have signed a name and logo at the

bottom of the page—and forever, in this girl’s mind, she will believe in Tommy Hilfiger as accompanying not only her greatest moments on this earth, but also her most fun and romantic ones. I urge you to understand young girls, Mark, and see how the ethos of this ad is the most effective way of convincing them to buy Tommy products. Yours Truly, Hilda

To: [email protected] From: [email protected] Cc: [email protected], [email protected] Subject: Legal Implications of proposed May 2003 ads Dear Mr. Johnson: My name is Derek Holloway, and I am the head legal advisor for Tommy Hilfiger, Inc. I am concerned about the upcoming ad campaign. As you know, companies like ours must be very careful about the ads that they submit to magazines, for the lawsuit implications, as well as the sales implications, are enormous. I have read Hilda Jensen’s letter advising you to choose the so-called “sex” ad for Seventeen magazine. I would first like to tell you why that is a legally bad choice, and then propose which of the three ads would be best for the image of our company and prevent future lawsuits. The ad that Ms. Jensen has proposed is too provocative for the young readers of Seventeen. In the magazine profile that we have on file, we see that the average reader of this magazine is far below seventeen years of age—in fact most are between thirteen and fifteen. Regardless of whether girls of this age might be ready for such images, their mothers and fathers are not ready for them to see them. In fact, my fourteen-year-old daughter is a subscriber to Seventeen, and there is no way that my wife would approve of this ad. The legal implications are extraordinary—parents will sue us in an instant, even claiming that their pregnant teens thought that sex seemed alluring because of this ad. And, if you look closely at the ad, we see that Ms. Jensen’s claim of equal power between the sexes is quite false: Notice that the male is leaning up and drawing the female in as her bent arm seems to be pushing him away. This is a signal to young girls that they must submit to male sexual requests even if they don’t want to. This ad is just a lawsuit waiting to happen. Instead, I would propose an ad that could help improve, not damage, our company reputation. As you might know, two years ago, we discovered an email hoax indicating that our company’s founder appeared on Oprah and made degrading comments

towards people of color. This has hurt our public image significantly, even thought there is not one shred of truth in this rumor. I would urge you to use the diverse ad for tommy girl perfume in the May issue of Seventeen. Not only will it reach out to black and minority readers, it will help our company’s reputation significantly. Please see figure 1. Figure 1 I do not have to tell you how the visual persuasion of this ad works. It is the contrast between the skin colors of the two girls in the picture that will help our company’s image. In addition, the contrast of the black and white stripes of their shirts sends a powerful message: white and black can not only live together, but can enhance each other. The fact that both girls are wrapped in what appears to be an American flag is encouraging—it sends the message that all of us, no matter what race, are Americans. Furthermore, “a declaration of independence” at the bottom of the page contributes even more to the sense that the black girl in the picture is not in slavery anymore. This ad is focused on treating blacks and minorities as a part of society. Not only do I advise you to use this advertisement next month as your lawyer, I would also urge you to reach out to other ethnic groups in your advertising. I would also like to admit that I am a member of the black community, and have some bias in looking at these ads. However, since it has struck me that most of our company ads only portray white people wearing Tommy Hilfiger apparel, it has no doubt struck many other black consumers. I urge you to make the right choice in using this proposed ad. Sincerely, Derek Holloway

Tommy Hilfiger Inc. Melissa Chavez, Sales Advisor Dear Mark Johnson: My name is Melissa Chavez, and I am the sales advisor for Tommy. I have reviewed the letter that Hilda Jensen sent to you, as well as the email from Derek Holloway. I believe that they both make good points about the ads that they endorse. As a former teenage girl, a parent, and a minority, I agree with many of the things that they have brought up. However, my main role in this company is not as any of those, but as someone who ensures that we sell to customers in a way that increases profits. I believe that neither of the ads that have been proposed will sell to our audience as much as the third ad that was created by our talented swimsuit team. I would like to prove to you why it is crucial that this ad run this month and no other. First off, May is prime swimsuit month. There is no getting around the facts—if we don’t sell our swimsuits in the Spring and early Summer, we don’t sell them at all. Second, we designed this ad in order to appeal to current events going on in the world today—it is no accident that the model is wearing red, white and blue. With the war going on, we cannot ignore the patriotism aspect of this ad. In addition to these general arguments for the ad, I would like to explain how this ad is designed to sell Tommy clothes. Carefully look at the ad. We have used classic techniques for this ad. The model is tan, has a nice body (thin, with large breasts, strong abs, and long limbs) and an appealing face. She has long wavy hair, which is sexy according to Western culture. In addition, she is staring right at the camera with large open eyes. Her posture is laid back and inviting, and she looks comfortable in her body. There is none of the shyness that the average girl might have wearing such a revealing bathing suit—this is no insecure teenage girl. However, this ad is not nearly as provocative or inappropriate as the first one. There is no sense of indecency in the ad. But more importantly, it is just the type of ad that our competitors are using and there is no way any customer can see ours as more improper than any others. This ad uses classic techniques to sell Tommy swimsuits. There are few words on the page—just the brand name and one woman selling a bathing suit, a look and a clothing line. Not only do we sell the Tommy name with this ad, we focus on one product and actually show, through visual rhetoric, how the product can help the average teenage girl live up to her ideal. In the ad that Mr. Holloway proposes, neither girl is sexy or happy enough for our purposes. Though Tommy girl perfume might be in the picture, the ad doesn’t imply that it will make you sexy or happy or attractive. I will not lie to you and say that this ad is revolutionary or extremely original. Instead, I will tell you the truth. As a sales advisor, it is my job to ensure that we advertise the right products at the right times. This means coats in the fall, and swimsuits in the spring. As much as the other ads might create an image of the Tommy brand as one of sophistication and patriotism, diversity and sexiness, they do not accomplish what this ad does. This ad forces the reader of Seventeen to remember that it is now bathing suit season,

to want to look like the ad in the picture, and to see how red, white and blue may be appropriately the “in” colors for this year. Please do not let this ad go to waste. Thanks for your time and consideration for our company’s sales. Thanks, Melissa Chavez

Tommy Hilfiger Inc. Mark Johnson, Head Advertising Consultant Dear Tommy Advertising employees, Thank you for the numerous letters that I received concerning my decision about which ad to place in the May issue of Seventeen. There were employees that argued for each ad, and it was a very difficult choice to make. However, I have decided that because there is only one ad that will lose its effectiveness after May, this ad must be run immediately. Therefore, we will be sending a copy of the swimsuit ad to the magazine’s layout manager to fit into our one available spot. Many of you have raised concerns about diversity, using romance in our ads, the image that teenage girls and parents will get from our ads, and other important issues. As head advertising consultant, I intend to use these important insights not only to decide on the placement of these three ads in popular magazines, but in our designs for future ads. Specifically, we are looking to place the more provocative ads in magazines like Cosmopolitan, where we don’t have to worry about the ethical and legal implications of “selling sex” to young girls. Furthermore, I intend to urge our advertising consultants to use more minorities in their ads, in order to reach out to Americans of all races. Finally, we will be sure that we advertise “on time”—as Ms. Chavez put it: “coats in the fall, and swimsuits in the spring.” I was very glad to hear from all of you. It seems that most of you share my opinions—while advertising is first and foremost about increasing sales, we must also remember that we have a social responsibility to our readers, who are increasingly bombarded with images that intend to persuade. We have a moral accountability, especially when attempting to sway the minds of young readers, to ensure that our ads are tasteful and enhance the society we live in. But I have discovered that this ethical responsibility goes hand in hand with our company image and profit— there is no contradiction between these two goals. I hope that those of you who responded with your opinions will see why I made the choice that I did. All of you do good work for our company, and I want you to know that every suggestion and concern sent my way was both valid and informative. If you have any additional concerns, I would be more than willing to talk with you. I hope that you are doing well. Keep up the good work! Sincerely, Mark Johnson

Works Cited Tommy Hilfiger. Advertisement.

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