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Bill Gillies - Editor

Ad campaign for jeans targets youth’s patriotism and optimism


Levi Strauss & Company has launched a new ad campaign for its flagship Levi’s brand, hoping to appeal to young adults with an ambitious call to arms: “Go forth.”

According to the New York Times, the campaign will include commercials on television, online and in movie theaters; print advertisements; outdoor and transit signs and posters; social media sites like Facebook; event marketing; and a contest on a section of the brand’s own Web site (levi.com/goforth).

The campaign is replete with Americana imagery, in keeping with research indicating that teenagers and 20-somethings are patriotic and optimistic about the United States. Those elements include the poetry of Walt Whitman, flags, paeans to the pioneering spirit, declarations of independence, salutes to hard work and, in the star-spangled tradition of Madison Avenue, copious amounts of nubile flesh.

Doug Sweeny, vice president for Levi’s brand marketing, said the battle cry was to determine “how do we connect this 150-year-old brand with what is happening in the youth culture today.”  The answer was to invoke the heritage of the brand, which dates to the California gold rush, by describing 501 jeans as “the uniform of common sense,” while celebrating the images and voices of contemporary youth.

The target audience for the campaign is young men ages 18 to 34, he added, with “the sweet spot the 22-year-old guys getting their first jobs out of college” – or not getting those jobs, because of the economy.

“They’re realists; they understand the challenge,” Sweeny says of young Americans now. “They’re optimistic about the future, they can project forward,” he added. “We found that really powerful and tried to evoke it in the campaign.”

And the contest that is part of the campaign is called The New Americans: A Portrait of a Country. Consumers will be invited to upload “Your words. Your pictures. Your stories of today’s America.”

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