NEW YORK, NEW YORK-In a move today that might remind you of the movie, "Weekend At Bernies," or corporations contracting to run school systems, clothing designer Calvin Klein has come up with a new way to "dress up an old white, dead guy." They are coming out with a new line of text books.
The clothing designer decided to get into the text book market after finding research that kid's reading scores were way down nationally.
"There is so much competition for kid's attention spans these days," Mark Smith a public relations person for the clothing designer said. "We wanted to level the playing field and come up with a solution that works. There are no ulterior motives. We know the power of image and if we could dress up a carrot, we would so that kids would eat more of them," he said.
"Kids do know the power of brand labels," Jack Brandoff, an advocate for consumer services said. "The new line of text books will give kids instant status with their peers. They're sending the message that text books and education can be cool," he said.
But critics are sceptical about the new plan and ask the question, what is going to get the kids to actually open them once they get them home? This, marketers say they will do by offering incentives in the form of coupons from fast food restaurants, free computer game and merchandise giveaways, vouchers for clothing and sexy pictures of our models at the end of each reading section.
They will also "air brush" the stories up a little by adding a little special effects, so that they will be a little more sexy. All of a sudden, the old man's eye in "The Tell Tale Heart," is staring at the wall at a poster of supermodel Heidi Klum and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Mystery is about a Red-Laced Teddy instead of a Red Speckled Band. Little changes.
Critics also wonder if the many hundreds of thousands of dollars spent of text books might be better spent on televisions, subscriptions to glossy magazines and tabloids themselves.
"Why not just cut to the chase," says market researcher, Anne Dillard. "This is what America does when they are home. This is the life that we should be preparing our kids for."
The clothes designer said that new lines for the text books would be printed for K-12th grades and that pilot issues for the college level would also be tried.
"Research for the books will definitely be market driven," Smith says. "None of this ivy league erudite government step-child scholarship crap. These books will be sexy! Kids won't be able to take their eyes off of them."