Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Levi's And Whitman Pair Up For Campaign

A friend suggested that I blog about this commercial a few months ago, and I realize I'm a bit late in the game for commentary on this Walt Whitman Wieden + Kennedy Levi's campaign, but it's a really great commercial.

At first view, I noted the exceptional execution and artistry of the ad, completely aside from content. It's gritty, moving and a bit nostalgic. It becomes that much cooler when you learn that the voice recording is supposedly an actual recording of Walt Whitman reading his poem.

If you visit the commercial on YouTube, however, dozens of comments blast the spot as trying to be too deep for a spot that just sells jeans. If this were a commercial for a new denim brand like 7 for All Mankind I would agree, but this is Levi's. They have an iconic and historical significance to America. Did you know Levi Strauss and his partner, Jacob Davis, patented the use of copper rivets to strengthen stressed seams creating the rivet style that is an essential part of being jeans today? Traditionally, jeans were the working man's attire and eventually became a symbol of rebellion in the 1950s and then an American wardrobe staple. Levi's as a brand was a large part of that progression in American fashion history and culture, so I don't think the tone of this ad is out of place for the Levi's brand.

Actually, I think this new direction for W+K is much more fitting to Levi's than their last campaign, Live Unbuttoned. Slate offers the opinion that the shift in tone is due to the economic downturn and I'm sure that's party true, but I'd also like to think that maybe Levi's realized a generic pop ad, however upbeat it may be, doesn't help differentiate them much. Levi's has a lot more to draw on than many jeans companies and while its desirability in the fashion world may oscillate over the years, it's managed to hold strong long term.

What do you think?

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