Kraftworks Seeks to Rejuvenate Company

Jantzen, the swimwear line favored by Hollywood starlets of the 1950s and 1960s, has asked Kraftworks to reposition the brand for today’s bathing beauties—now men as well as women.

Jantzen has a strong relationship with the over-50 set. Now it wants advertising that will raise its profile among shoppers in their 30s and 40s, a demographic that has eluded the brand in recent years.

“It’s a venerable brand that everybody over 35 knows and nobody under 35 has heard of,” said Neil Kraft, president of Kraftworks in New York. “Really, the modern-day swimsuit market doesn’t care that the name was credible in 1955.”

The company attempted to grab the attention of younger women earlier this year with a campaign from Leopold Ketel & Partners in Portland, Ore., featuring models in the target age group, said Brian Murphy, Jantzen’s vp of marketing. When Jantzen decided to include younger men in its demographics as well—it is introducing accessories and men’s sportswear lines—it held a review in which Kraftworks prevailed last month.

The agency is now planning a campaign for the 2004 spring season. Though none of the work will be product specific, the shop is charged with uniting all of Jantzen’s lines. It will be starting from scratch for many consumers. “I’m sure Jantzen has no brand identity to a younger audience,” said Candace Corlett, a principal at WSL Strategic Retail in New York.

Jantzen is owned by Perry Ellis International, which bought the company in 2002. Spending, about $1 million last year, is expected to increase, Murphy said.

“We have to give it a new image,” said Kraft. “Move away from being a swimwear brand and turn it into a lifestyle brand.”