MEDIA: Strategy of the Week - Levi's finds new-style strategy for new-style jeans

Levi's abandoned its usual formulae to promote its 501 Anti-fits, Mark Sweney says.

In promoting the latest redesign of its iconic jean brand, called the 501 Anti-fit, Levi's Europe wanted to reflect its brand's "originality" by adopting a radically different advertising approach.

Levi's has traditionally opted for an epic blockbuster-style of television ad, with no dialogue and heavily reliant on music, backed by a blanket media strategy designed to saturate the target 16- to 24-year-old market.

The new campaign, centred around Bartle Bogle Hegarty's TV spots, is the first to promote the 501 brand since 1998. It breaks with convention by using dialogue - without any music.

"We needed to communicate that the jeans have been remodelled and contemporised," Rob Farmer, the business director at BBH, says. "To do that we wanted to communicate the product news differently from the old ad formula."

The media strategy eschews Levi's traditional blanket formula, instead aiming for a more targeted, personalised approach.

"We have dramatically refined Levi's media strategy, which usually targets 16- to 24-year-olds," Nick Vale, the group account director at Levi's media planning and buying agency, Starcom Motive, says. "It is tempting for a fashion brand just to appear in fashion sectors. Essentially, we want to hit kids when they are involved in their passions."

Fashion is not top priority for young men. To hit this demographic, therefore, the campaign uses media associated with interests such as movies, music, gaming and sports such as skateboarding and snowboarding. Vale calls this the "sniper-rifle approach".

Outdoor executions, bought by Poster Publicity, will appear in targeted locations around night clubs and outside record stores. Posters will be displayed around cinemas. Print executions will appear in gaming titles, listings magazines and movie titles as well as the core fashion and lifestyle publications. BBH has also developed radio creative, an unusual strategy for a fashion brand, Vale says.

The three TV ads ("doorman", "hot dog" and "Hispanic") also reflect this more personal approach. Each spot features young American men and women in everyday scenes in downtown Los Angeles - buying a hot dog, hanging out talking on the sidewalk and speaking to a bouncer outside a club.

"These ads are intimate, with slice-of-life dialogue that relies on the performance of the characters talking about the 'anti-fit' aspect of the jeans," Farmer says.

The campaign doesn't use 60-second spots: shorter ads are considered more personal. BBH has also developed five ten-second spots each with its own creative, rather than cut-downs of the longer ads. The variety of executions allows the spots to be spread around a varied, unconventional channel mix, including music television channels.

Levi's is also sponsoring, through a deal struck by Starcom Motive, the "Ones to Watch" live band nights run by the entertainment group Barfly. Up-and-coming bands will be dressed by Levi's.

The digital agency Lateral has taken the campaign online, having extended Levi's Europe website ( with a new 501 Jean-specific area.

As well as providing product information, the site ties in with the above-the-line ads through a video mixer. Users can view the ads and create their own clips, which can be sent to friends as video e-mails.

Client: Levi's

Media used: TV, press, outdoor, sponsorship, online

Agencies: Bartle Bogle Hegarty, Starcom Motive, Poster Publicity,


Media idea: Hit the target audience of 16- to 24-year-olds when they are

indulging in their passions

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