CL Seeks to Strip Pretension From Cross Pens

Carmichael Lynch pushes Cross pens as everyday writing instruments in the shop’s first brand work for the company.

“There can be an air of pretentiousness when someone owns a high-quality writing instrument,” said Jim Scott, an account director at the Minneapolis agency. “At some point, it is just a pen.”

The agency’s first ads for Providence, R.I.-based A.T. Cross introduces the tagline, “The pen, pushed.” The line is intended to position Cross as an innovator, Scott said.

“Cross is going to redefine the pen as far as they can,” he said. The new campaign focuses on the company’s three newest pens: the Morph, the Ion and the Townsend—”the best example of what Cross’s reinvigoration is all about today,” Scott said.

Each ad features a pen and a specific headline. For the ultra-small Ion: “This is what happens when pen designers are given unlimited access to espresso.” For the Morph, with its adjustable grip: “Eliminates writers cramp. For writer’s block, try tequila.”

“We’re trying to nicely say that there’s a pen for everyone,” Scott said. “We’re going to do it in a way that’s more human.”

Bruce Willox, Cross’s director of global marketing, said, “It’s about accessibility, but it’s also thinking about moving your brand beyond where it may have resided.”

The $4 million effort breaks next month in publications from Entertainment Weekly and Vogue to Pen World. The ads will run through June to cover the graduation season and re-appear in November for the holidays, Scott said.

CL won the Cross account last April. Over the past year, the agency has developed a new logo for the company and talked to consumers about how pens can reflect one’s personality, particularly in an increasingly digital world, Scott said.