Calvin Klein and the Power of Perms

March 14, 2024

Here’s a bold fashion statement: perms are always in style.

Woman with permed hair
No, not that kind. Keep reading.

What makes out of home advertising special and unique is its physical presence. Out of home is part of our environment, and a part of the community in every market we serve. That real-world presence conveys legitimacy and trustworthiness as a brand’s message subconsciously sinks in with each impression. Sometimes though it isn’t location that defines the billboard – sometimes it’s the billboard that defines a location.

The location we’re talking about is just north of Houston Street in lower Manhattan – and the billboard we’re talking about (along with everyone else) is Calvin Klein’s.

You’ve almost certainly seen this wallscape before. If you’re under 25 years old, you may have been seeing it your whole life. That’s because Calvin Klein has been the only advertiser on it since at least 2006, when we started working with them. However, the brand may have been here as early as 1999. That’s right – Calvin Klein has been on this billboard for so long, nobody can remember exactly when it started!

But for however long Calvin Klein has been there, the brand has used the board to steadily showcase the biggest, buzziest names pop culture has to offer each season, from Kate Moss to K-poppers. A recent edition featuring Jeremy Allen White, star of The Bear, all but broke the internet with a campaign that dropped right as the show and its lead actor began to pile up awards.

out of home billboard advertising new york city calvin klein
From a tactical perspective, Calvin Klein’s usage of that iconic NoHo wallscape is called a “perm,” short for “permanent.” As the name implies, it’s a long-term exclusive presence on a particular asset, usually contracted out a full year at a time.

It’s quite a contrast from a typical, boilerplate term for an OOH flight lasting four weeks. So, while many advertisers come and go just like that, when it’s the same brand in the same place, week after week, month after month, marketers can play the long game. A year’s worth of frequency to drive a message home. A year’s worth of brand storytelling opportunity. An “appointment location” where customers can count on being able to learn about a brand’s latest and greatest. A place where brands can maintain ongoing outreach.

Jennie Kim Calvin Klein NoHo Wallscape
While Calvin Klein’s perm might be the only one that’s become a legitimate cultural landmark, it’s far from the only brand using the strategy. Mobile phone manufacturers and carriers are some of the industries that lean into the strategy, but perms can pay dividends for any business whose demand exists year-round. And it’s not just for advertisers who are already household names – it can also work for those who want to become one.

Take for example personal injury attorney Joumana Kayrouz, whose billboards in Detroit and its suburbs have been so ubiquitous, she’s practically become a meme. But her law firm’s long-term presence on billboards throughout the region established more than just name recognition – it earned trust and helped the firm grow into Michigan’s second largest, with a team of 70.

Billboard for Joumana Kayrouz says watching out for your rights
“To me, billboards hold significant power in creating brand awareness and the volume to reinforce, through repetition," said Kayrouz. "They drive traffic to my business, help me to influence trends and mindsets, and serve as landmarks or points of reference in the surrounding area for me. Like my airport boards! They will never go out of style serving these purposes, as long as humans are on the roadways and highways!”
Whether you’re a major brand or an up-and-coming small business, billboard perms might be right for you! Contact us today to find out more.

Author: Jay Fenster, Marketing Manager @ OUTFRONT

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