Monday, March 12, 2007

Eau de Hookup

Last Thursday's New York Times had an article about Calvin Klein's attempt to recreate the success of their CK One fragrance, which captured the spirit of the grunge movement and flew off the shelves. The question arose of how to sum up the ideals and values of this generation of 20-somethings (my generation, which they unfortunately refer to as "technosexuals," a term that only brings images of robot sex to mind).

While CK One touched on feelings of ambivalence and alienation felt by young adults in the early 90's, CK in2u is intended to evoke a generation whose relationships are defined by casual hookups instigated through online contact. Basically, we're so incapable of having real relationships that we're forced to sit around all day searching the internet for people to have one night stands with. Will this scent feature notes of computer plastic, sweat and latex, with a fast drydown meant to evoke the short lifespan of these person-to-person interactions? And does anyone (besides Prince circa Purple Rain or 12 year old text messaging addicts, maybe) actually converse in shorthand like "i'm in 2 u"? Seriously, what were they thinking?

Aside from the obvious point that I can't imagine anyone wanting to identify as a "technosexual," it just amazes and frustrates me that this is the simplistic and patronizing way my generation is perceived. Granted, the popularity of hooking up and finding relationships through the internet is unique to this time, but those don't seem to be things people are proud of, or want to openly identify with. Our parents had the hippie movement, classic rock, youth activism, drug experimentation and the Vietnam war and we have... MySpace hookups, Paris Hilton and poor social skills?

Obviously there are other things that can be pinpointed to define this generation: an unparalleled pressure to overachieve that begins at an early age, a world greatly changed by 9/11, an increased interest in religion and spirituality, a greater openness to non-heterosexual relationships, and the more positive aspects of widespread internet use, such as availability of information and ease of communicating with people all over the world... and these are just a few things that come to mind immediately. Granted, none of these are ideas that could be used to market a perfume (if they release a "fragrances of the Ivy Leagues" to capitalize on the prestigious college feeding frenzy, I'm throwing in the towel). So why not acknowledge that they hit gold last time but that making pronouncements about an entire generation of people is a risky move that can easily backfire?

Calvin Klein predicts that the fragrance will be a huge hit, and I have to wonder whether I'm alone in not wanting to identify with the generational traits this product identifies and glorifies. I hate to criticize a product before it even comes out, but at this point, CK in2u looks and sounds just plain lame.


Tamron Lohan said...

Yeah, um how 'bout not n2it? God. Just thinking about CK1 makes me feel like I'm gonna break out in hives. Smells like 8th grade ackwardness. Woo. Spray some of that shit on and let's party like 1991!

QM said...

This is exactly the result of what happens when middle aged marketing men/women gather in a board room and attempt to tap into what they think 'young people' do and are into - it's so simplistic and patronising it's doomed from the start.

Libby said...

Granted, the name and philosophy behind it stinks, but the perfume just may smell great.

Anonymous said...

Very well written! I agree with you completely. It's a shame that they think of our generation that way. They are totally alienating people that don't want to be labelled as a "technosexual". I am not one and in no way want to be associated with that image. So in turn, I wouldn't buy the perfume. But hey, maybe I'm not majority, and majority would find that appealing. Although, I don't agree with everything Paris Hilton does and I don't want to be like her, but I did buy her perfume, so go figure. Maybe I'm all talk! Anyway, I still agree with your point :)

Gala said...

I have read quite a bit of critique on the story/concept behind the perfume... but seriously, does it matter if it smells good? I'm sure it's not going to smell like an overheated motherboard :D

Meg said...

Gala and Libby- No, I totally agree that whether the fragrance smells good is very important, and will definitely affect sales. But so much of the success of a fragrance is due to marketing, and if they're alienating people through the ad campaigns, they're going to have a much tougher time capturing the success of CK One. Thanks for your comments!

Hyperion said...

ck1 never did it for me in the slightest - and were they ever got the idea that it tagged along with the "grunge" slide I have no idea..

This is what happens when over paid marketing execs get teams of stressed out like wises together and a room and tell them to come up with a "Theme".

"a greater openness to non-heterosexual relationships"

there is? were???
Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Transgendered - still all HIGHLY STIGMATISED..
When clearly by now we shouldn't even have a second thought regarding such things, it should just be totally and utter acceptance - the same as if someone said to you - "Yes I'm Married with 2 kids Happily" or "Yes I goto College" yano?

But I digress...

This latest marketing campaign behind this new fragrance - just goes to show you how much of an effort such companies goto to edge and coral people into "genres" for east targeted marketing.

Looks all very clinical and precise to me - no originality in it at all..

I'll probably go have a sniffy sniffy at some when i see it on the shelves but don't think I would buy - am very specific fragrance wise - got my whole range down and everything ;)

Excellent review and well Opinionated as usual Meg Hun

Hyperion x0x

PS - Do Footwear pweeeeese? /hyper flutters eyelids in your direction

Anonymous said...

Isn't it rather ironic that everyone here claims to be repulsed by the term "technosexual" when you are all posting comments to a blog? Perhaps a sent called Luddite would be more appealing? I don't mean to offend, by point is simply that all people who are on-line are to some degree technologically savvy. You have never seen a website, gadget orinterface you might describe as "sexy"? Not meaning that you wish to have sex with said gadget, but that it's appealing and cool? While the CK In2U is obviously aimed at a younger crowd that me (I am 36) I totally see the appeal of their brand of marketing. The name, image and terminology are aimed at their target market. Besides, it just might smell really good, and isn't that the deciding factor for a scent and whether you will buy it or not?
Thanks for this stimulating topic!

ambika said...

You articulated so well exactly what I thought when I first saw the print ads. & unlike some people who seem to think marketing has no impact on a products appeal, I could care less what this smells like if the company behind it thinks I'm myspace internet hook up junkie.