English Media Study – Levis Jeans

When Levi’s were first brought out, their target audience was youths, teenagers. Unfortunately as time went on, the teens that had originally bought them grew older and had kids which turned Levi’s into ‘My Dad’s Jeans’. With losing it’s youth market and with it’s sales falling Levi’s needed a new strategy. They brought in BBH to create a new advertising campaign. The idea was that they could recreate their original reputation in the 1950’s for the new generation. In the 1950’s the Levi’s brand was known for it’s original design, it’s strong hardwearing fabric and it’s American-ness.

Their jeans were classic and stylish and above all, Levi’s. They represented rebellion, individuality and youth. To keep this idea their target audience was teenagers (15-20). Before the 50’s teenagers were either seen as children with no spending power or as Adults. After the war the hard times ended and people seemed to have a lot more money. Children now had a lot of that money, spending it on fashions and lifestyles. A new group of people to suck into the ever expanding trade, looking for heroes to follow, and interests to pursue, Levi’s used this opportunity and has drawn repeatedly on the idea of the ‘rebel’.

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Levis’s new advertising campaign introduced a creative new idea, involving a man and a woman recreating the impression of 50s America. All the advertisements in this series revolved around this same idea of people finding the person wearing the jeans desirable. The scenarios ranged from launderettes to beaches, all featuring an emphasis on physical attraction and most of them set in a public place. However Levis didn’t predict what sort of impact this commercial campaign would bring to the population of teenagers.

The result was massive, the number of Button Fly 501’s sold in 1987 was over 20 times that of 1984, due to this break through in commercial advertising. Everyone wanted to get their hands on a pair of 501’s. The majority of adverts in this particular campaign were targeted at the male gender of the population. The commercials are often controversial & always very lavishly produced. The adverts denote that wearing Levi’s is cool, sexy, stylish and, although being a casual fit, they are versatile in the sense that the jeans can be dressed up to impress (The Party advert), but at the same time, can be worn every day for work.

As well as being all of the above, Levi’s have managed to get the right balance between rebellion and style. Many of the advertisements in this series show the hero in a state of nudity, often topless, this increases the sex appeal of Levi Strauss’ revolutionary 501’s. An example of their successful campaign is the advert referred to as ‘The Deal. ‘ This advert starts off in a busy office, business people buzzing around with a generally hardworking atmosphere. The background song is called ‘The Joker,’ which was released in 1973, then re-released in 1990, and as a result of this successful commercial reached number 1 in the charts.

The lyrics are fit very closely with the action in the ad. The male character enters via the lift on a motorbike looking very cool and showing connotations of being a bit of a stereotypical hell’s angel. He pulls up alongside the female character looking very sophisticated and businesslike. He hands her a brown paper parcel, which she opens, revealing a pair of Levi’s 501’s and then proceeds to put them on. The female takes her hair out of a ponytail and leaves it loose and mounts the bike behind. Then the camera shows the couple riding off happily into the sunset.

The slogan reads ‘The Original Workwear’ and the famous red logo is displayed once again. To manipulate the male’s mind Levis’s ad campaign exploited the men’s desire to be in control and to be the leader of the situation. The advertisements make the audience want to empathise with the characters because they represent an ideal. They do this by using a stereotypical attractive male: tall, dark and handsome (like the one in ‘The Deal’). In the advertisements there were traditional roles for the men and women.

Back then women were expected to play along with what the men wanted and this is imitated in the advertisements. The men were the dominant sex, far superior to the females. The women were valued for their ability to enhance men’s status through looks and virtue, their ability to play out a subservient role. This atmosphere has been constantly focussed on through the entire campaign. Men want to wear these jeans so they can feel big, strong and sexy, like the man portrayed in the adverts (the man in ‘the Bath’ ad doing push-ups with his top off is a perfect example of this vanity ploy).

They can feel proud of wearing them and more important than other people around them. It makes them believe that they are the centre of attention and all eyes are solely focussed on them (like the man entering the office in his motorbike in ‘The Deal’ ad). Another example is the advert called ‘The Beach’. In this advert the male character is represented as being the modern equivalent of a rebel. The sky clear blue, the weather is hot and the sand is golden shows of being a typical American Summer.

The music is called ‘Can’t Get Enough’ written by ‘The Bad Company’, which plays all the way through the commercial. It particularly gives the whole atmosphere of American summer feel. The words fits perfectly with the ad give the maximum impact. It begins with the a male wearing a Levis 501 jeans and his dog walking along a beach. The man takes off his jeans and leaves them in the care of his dog whilst, (assume) he goes surfing. A man who eyes up the jeans whilst eating an ice cream received defensive and excessive barking from the dog, so the man carries on walking.

The next cross cut action of the camera is a medium shot of an attractive young lady wearing a bright yellow bikini. She spots the jeans and begins to put the jeans on with the dog watching her every move. As the girl turns her back on the dog and attempts to walk away, the dog suddenly launches for her leg in an attempt to stop her. It almost seems as if the dog tries to take the jeans back off her. The camera then cross cuts into a long shot of the man returning with an embarrassed look on his face. He then praises the dog.

Both the man and the girl look embarrassed for each other. They then become acquainted with one another. The final long shot of the couple and the dog, walking off together, moving away from the camera. The slogan for this advert is ‘Originals have always been sought after,’ displaying the logo at the same time. The women in the advertisements frequently come across a handsome young man wearing the jeans, whether he’d be stripping in a launderette, or half naked in a cafi??. These young men in those adverts always ended up with the pretty girls.

This is obviously a instant attraction to audience to go out and buy Levis Jeans because Levis men are in control, sexy, laid back and always gets what they what. In another word, Levis is fashion and fashion is Levis. If you do not have a pair of Levis jeans then you are so not cool. In ‘The Beach’ advert, the girl actually put the jeans on, this is not the usual Levis style. At that time you rarely see women wearing jeans which is why this advert is evolutionary. The message within the ad is that Levis is for every one regardless of their agenda, occupation and age.

Levis jeans is also something that every body knows everybody wants and everybody values. ‘Launderette’ shows the text “Now available stone washed” at the end, as in the past people would also often wash their jeans along with stones to create a stone washed effect. This features another conventionally good-looking man, walking into a laundrette. He walks in and towards a washing machine, with two small boys staring and admiring him over the top of a washing machine, before their mother pulls them away. We also see two young women admiring the man, they are looking at him and giggling.

The man is very confident. He walks over to a washing machine and begins to remove his clothes. When he pulls off his belt it runs smoothly through the belt loops, undressing almost like a stripper. He then begins to undo the buttons at the front of his jeans as the camera again focuses on this. When he pulls of his jeans the underwear that he is wearing is snow white. This is a sharp contrast with his jeans and tanned skin. After taking off his clothes he puts them into a washing machine, before tipping a bag of stones into the machine with them.

He then turns and sits down next to a large man, who wears dull clothes and doesn’t stand out like the young man wearing the jeans. The man has an almost disapproving look upon his face. At the very end of the advert the young man who stripped begins to read a newspaper, which is a very everyday act, which is showing how the man doesn’t feel like him stripping is anything out of the ordinary, indicating confidence and boldness. The music played throughout this advert is “Heard it on the grapevine,” which is how gossip is often referred to and suggests that the man is something to gossip about, and somebody that is talked about.

The audience is supposed to respond to the image with almost awe. They are supposed to look up to the Levi’s man in almost ‘he is my idol’ way. This reaction would bring in a lot of sales because the people would want to mimic their idol. Women feature in these adverts by becoming the item that the Levi’s men want, ‘Pickup’. This image means that women of the audience will buy the jeans to become the ‘Levi’s man’s goal’ and the men will buy the jean to ‘get Levi’s women’. The audience responds to the Levi’s man/ woman by buying the Levi’s jeans.

The audience having the following ideas makes this decision: Male – “As he gets all the girls, if I buy these jeans that means I will get all the girls too” Female – “That girl always looks beautiful and always has the guys wanting to be with her, if I buy those jeans I will become attractive to the opposite sex too” The audience is influenced by the adverts, thinking that by buying these jeans that they will also be buying the looks, the lifestyle and becoming attractive to the opposite sex.

The rebel elements I think that is particularly successful is the ‘Laundrette’ style ads because the idea of perfect people (Levi’s man and woman) advertising these jeans would make the audience think that if they bought the jeans they could become perfect people too. I think the advertising campaign in 1980s is better than what Levis has now. Because the campaign back then is more interesting, humorous and more connected with day to day life of audience. In another hand, as advertisement industry grows, it is harder to make a successful advertising campaign that could stand out from the crowed than back then.

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