Address 1155 Battery St, San Francisco
Date of birth 1873
Nationality As American as apple pie and guns in the classroom.
Marital status Still a single, lonesome cowboy. Levi’s is 100 per cent
privately owned and controlled by the Haas family. Chairman Bob Haas is
the great, great, grand-nephew of ol’ blue jeans himself, Levi
Background In the 1850s, the heyday of the Wild West, cowboys used to
wear out their pants in no time (all that bar brawling, getting dragged
through the dirt by runaway stallions etc). Seeing a business
opportunity, Levi Strauss, a Bavarian immigrant, started making
super-strong strides from sail cloth. Later he switched to the French
fabric serge de Nimes (giving birth to the name denim) and used copper
rivets to fasten the cloth. In 1873, the first pair of jeans - lot 501 -
rolled off his production line and a brand legend was born.
For the next 120 years - especially the mid-80s when Nick Kamen stripped
in a laundrette - Levi’s could do no wrong. That was until the mid-90s,
when combat trousers overtook denim in the style stakes.
In a panic, Levi’s resurrected the smart Sta-Prest brand with the help
of furry orange puppet Flat Eric, and the brand was trendy once
The company’s revamped stores and new range of Twisted jeans have
further reversed the decline.
Key brands and brand managers
- Suzanne Gallagher, marketing manager, Levi’s UK. Based in London.
- Peter Ingwersen, brand manager, Levi’s Premium. Based in Brussels.
- Georgio Presca, brand manager, Levi’s Originals. Based in
Media agency and account manager Bartle Bogle Hegarty has handled Levi’s
advertising since 1984. Media has been with its subsidiary Motive, now
Starcom Motive after its merger with Leo Burnett’s media division.
Account manager is Peter Colvin.
Contact number for Starcom Motive 020-7453 4444
Annual media spend Between January and December 1999, Levi’s spent
pounds 3.6 million in the UK and 86 per cent of this went on TV (AC
The ad push for Twisted may result in a higher spend this year.
Media used A heavy TV user, Levi’s work features in Campaign’s Top 100
ads of the century. A recent magazine campaign for the Twisted range
used an upside-down back cover with a seven-page gallery. Online agency
Lateral has produced innovative work featuring Flat Eric. Levi’s has
also recently created a radio station called Global Sound Kitchen.