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Arrow shirt gives social networking a cause

The maker of Arrow shirts has launched a multichannel marketing campaign designed to raise awareness of – and financial support toward – restoring the deteriorating buildings on historic Ellis Island.

The campaign from New York-based Philips-Van Heusen Corp. for the Arrow brand is expected to have a budget exceeding $20 million. It will include national print ads, outdoor billboards, in-flight videos, eco-friendly hangers, online ads and a Web site with consumer-generated content.

“Overall, the brand investment exceeds any number that we’ve ever run,” said Hitesh Patel, VP of global communications at Phillips-Van Heusen.

While the brand has traditionally relied heavily on print advertising to deliver its message, the new campaign brings in a variety of other elements for the first time.

“The campaign is the first of its kind for Arrow, when you consider the combination of a cause-related marketing program and social networking,” Patel stated. The company is hoping to “build long-term awareness of Arrow by elevating awareness of Ellis Island,” Patel said.

Phillips-Van Heusen, which also owns the brands Calvin Klein, Bass and Geoffrey Beene, among others, acquired Arrow shirts three years ago with the goal of rebuilding the 156-year-old brand’s equity, Patel said.

After a year and a half of research, the company determined that the brand’s core audience is somebody who cares about community, family, social values, supports our nation and is interested in having a connection to causes.

With this in mind, Phillips-Van Heusen has launched a Web site, We Are Ellis Island (www.weareellisisland.com) where people can relate their personal experiences of Ellis Island and upload photographs and videos.

“Stories of hope, courage and inspiration are at the heart of the campaignà as are the authentic American ideals of freedom, opportunity and perseverance,” said Mike Kelly, EVP of marketing at Phillips-Van Heusen.

The Web site already features numerous celebrities describing the experience of their families at Ellis Island, including Joe Montana, Christian Slater, Elliot Gould and cast members of “The Sopranos.”

The videos also have a presence on YouTube and MySpace and Phillips-Van Heusen is trying to connect with other special interest Web sites, such as genealogy sites and family sites. According to Patel, several Italian sites have already written to the company asking to connect their stories to the site.

“Genealogy is one of the most popular hobbies of Americans,” he said.

Links on the site will enable visitors to donate to Save Ellis Island Inc., the nonprofit organization dedicated to the rehabilitation of the presently deteriorating buildings on Ellis Island.

The national advertising campaign for Arrow brand apparel featuring the Save Ellis Island effort is making its debut in September issues of entertainment and lifestyle magazines and elsewhere. A call to action directing people to the We Are Ellis Island Web site will be featured on all elements of the campaign.

The campaign was conceived by the in-house PVH advertising and marketing group and shot on location in the deteriorating buildings on Ellis Island.

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