Viewing the work, I was immediately hit by a contemporary industry issue: branded content. Will it ever be better for advertisers than these beauties?
Each one tells a story, visual narrative melding with soundtrack, taking the audience to places they've not visited before, physically or culturally.
No frame is wasted; each fraction of a second builds the plot. A plot that the audience adds to themselves because in five out of six commercials, no word is spoken, not even "Levi's". They're pure branded entertainment.
And, like all great entertainment, they give you value beyond the time you spend consuming it.
It all started in a "launderette" (1). Who wants to go there? Well, every bloke in the world, if it shows him how to undress in front of women.
As well as telling us we'd look good doing it in our Levi's, it encouraged us to wear those healthier boxers, thereby making a significant contribution to future generations.
Next up, "swimmer" (2). The sheer beauty of the colours are mesmerising, as is the dripping Adonis. Let's face it: we'd all like to hang about in back gardens like these. Again, we're receiving another health message; the more you wash, the more the girls like it. Who said Levi's was about sex? Clearly, health education was the hidden altruistic agenda.
This is continued in the wonderfully edgy, "drugstore" (5). An utterly engrossing narrative, juxtaposing drum 'n' bass, monochrome 30s America Hicksville and a drugstore owner wishing he hadn't been quite so commercially driven in his dispensing of condoms, as it's his daughter who turns out to be the enthusiastic "end user". I feel this could hit the airwaves tomorrow and do a job for the brand; it's compelling and way ahead of its time.
Off in a "taxi" now (3) and once again Levi's is countenancing sexual caution! Let's face it, first time we all saw this it did us, didn't it?
It was 1995 and by now Levi's was the only brand that had acquired the social confidence to take us on a transvestite journey and have us believe that there was something cool about the 70s. Both concepts are a bit of a handful.
We now take a leap to 2002 and "Odyssey" (4). A new Levi"s product for a new millennium takes us on a magical and ethereal journey that encapsulates the perennial quest of youth for freedom of expression and sexual liberation.
It engaged us all with the dramatic use of music by Handel and, no matter what your age, it made you feel your pair of Levi's would help you take on all comers.
You might need this resolve in downtown LA, which is where "Hispanic" takes us (6). Blimey! It's got words, but they're in Spanish.
Overall, I've loved looking back with Levi's. Over 20 years, it's treated the audience with total respect. Like all great communicators, it engaged us all, but spoke most powerfully to those whose thoughts mattered most.
None of it's been an irritating interruption.
Sincere thanks for a determined agency and a succession of like-minded Levi's clients. I can't help thinking that if more of the industry had shared this determination for magnificent communication, our advertising environment would be a more fertile land than its polluted reality currently is, "branded" or not.
1. 501s Title: Laundrette Agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty Year: 1985 2. 501s Title: Swimmer Agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty Year: 1992 3. 501s Title: Taxi Agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty Year: 1995 4. LEVI'S ENGINEERED Title: Odyssey Agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty Year: 2002 5. 501s Title: Drugstore Agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty Year: 1995 6. LEVI'S 501S WITH ANTI-FIT Title: Hispanic Agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty Year: 2004