Wolf in the Folds of Carhartt Apparel

Work apparel maker Carhartt today launches its first integrated national campaign, which also marks the brand’s TV debut.

The campaign, from WPP’s Team Detroit, draws upon the durability of Carhartt’s clothing and uses the tag: “Relax, it’s tough.” In the TV spot, a wolf viciously attacks one of three twentysomething campers sitting around a fire. After successful fending off the animal, the victim examines his undamaged Carhartt jacket and finds one of the wolf’s teeth stuck in it.

Carhartt wants to attract younger consumers with the pitch, particularly 18- to 34-year old males, per the company. The spot will run on ESPN, The History Channel and The Discovery Channel through Dec. 19.

The brand has created a microsite that houses five alternate endings to the commercial and behind-the-scenes footage. It invites consumers to share their own campfire stories and take part in a contest, among other things.

Additionally, there’s a digital media component, including flash banners on over 10,000 Web sites and a social media campaign on Facebook.

In-store point-of-purchase displays are also part of the mix.

“This is the first time we’ve had a consistent message across channels,” said Randy Meza, Carhartt’s marketing director. “We’re really excited about the story we can tell . . . We realize there are a lot of opportunities for us as a brand to grow.”

Meza said that the company has done limited advertising before and focused mostly on print, mobile marketing and sponsorships. (About three years ago, Carhartt created a TV spot for retailers to use, but the company didn’t fund it with its own media budget.) The last tagline Carhartt used — “Hard at work since 1889” — was about three years ago, he said.

The new work is the first from Team Detroit, which Carhartt hired in April to handle the business. “Carhartt came to us and laid out the challenge to create an advertising effort that is unmistakably bold and breakthrough,” said Greg Braun, Team Detroit executive creative director. “While it’s an intense spot, the message it conveys is a positive one.”

Carhartt’s core base is a consumer looking for work and outdoor wear, but the demo has expanded to include consumers who turn to the brand for weekend and casual use, Braun added. In 2006, the company introduced a line of women’s clothing. Meza said the fits and colors of those offerings have been evolving to become “more and more relevant” to the fashion tastes of women.

Helping to drive Carhartt’s expansion will be Tony Ambroza, who joined the company this week as vp of marketing. Ambroza was previously director of men’s brand marketing and director of retail marketing at Under Armour. He also spent more than six years with Nike as U.S. brand strategic planning manager.