Levis is seen as the archetypal image brand in the fashion sector. I don’t wish to be controversial but I disagree.
Ever since Nick Kamen walked into the laundromat to the tune of Marvin Gaye’s “Through the Grapevine”, took off his Levis and washed them with a bag of stones – the brand has been about function, function, function. The clever thing is though, you don’t notice it. It’s couched in clever imagery, imagery that just adds to the function and pitches it higher than the competition.
Each of the screenshots (courtesy of YouTube) that follows is from a famous Levis commercial.
We have the cowboy burning his “do-da’s” at the camp fire. Until Levis removed the stud. It was the first brand to remove the stud and says so in the memorable campaign.
We have settlers going west, taking a break in the desert. A man emerges, shockingly naked, from a pond. The strictly religious teenage girls look away (or not). Only to see the man swimming in his jeans. Stretch-fit Levis of course.
We have the stranded motorist, saved by a man in his pick-up. With no towrope he has to use his jeans. They’re that strong, he can tow a car without ripping them.
We have the surfer. He disappears into the water and someone tries to steal his jeans. Up jumps rover and tugs them back. Are they damaged? Of course not, they’re Levis.
We have the young man buying condoms – the chemist doubts his age but gives him the condoms, grudgingly. Young man pops them in the pouch in his jeans – Levis introduced the first coin pouch. (Later he picks up his date. The door is opened by the father of his also very young looking girlfriend: the chemist).
We have Levis twisting jeans, reversible, baggy, in keeping with modern trends.
As Levis updated the campaign (for a long time aided and abetted by award-winning London agency Bogle Bartle Hegarty), the music used in each execution went into the charts. And as you sang along to Stiltskin or be-bopped to Phil Collins, subconsciously you were taking in a product message. A functional one.