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Levi’s then and now- from cynical to serious

July 7, 2009

Thinking back to some of the greatest US ads of all time, Levi’s 1997 “Tainted Love” spot from FCB for ranks right up there. It gave people a feeling that the brand got the sensibility of the zeitgeist. It was dark humor for a cynical age.

The times have clearly changed and now there’s a new mood of realism.

Fast forward to Levi’s latest effort and there appears to be a very different feel, so much so, you question whether it comes from the same brand.The new effort is an old school “big idea” ad campaign with a new sensibility of seriousness that matches the times. With it, Levi’s thrusts itself into the conversation with a “call to arms” for the new generation.

Pepsi tried to do this earlier in the year with a campaign driven from the energy of optimism of the November election. However, that fluffy optimism did not really last and has now been tempered by the realism of 10% unemployment.

Levi’s has made a brave strategic move to leverage the current mood to its advantage and in a way that is entirely consistent with the brand’s DNA and heritage.

No other jeans brand can stake this claim.

The advertising reminds us just how powerful a 60 second television spot can still be, at a time when everyone is questioning it’s impact and effect. Hopefully, the media buy will ensures the spots are placed in environments where they are going to get the attention they need.

It’s also good to see the brand stretch out with its web presence to encourage people participation with art and ideas. If they can push these material out beyond the web, all the better and all the more believable the “big idea” will become.

This effort is going to help Levi’s rescue its image and it’s going to built a solid foundation which can also fuel efforts in design. Having the product and the image march hand-in-hand is going to be essential for the sales success that this brand so urgently needs.

Posted by Ed Cotton

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