Historic Trumps Hip for Levi’s New Campaign

CMO says 501 jeans spot is inclusive, soulful

You don’t have to be hip, young or a cultural trendsetter to rock a pair of Levi’s jeans, according to Jennifer Sey, global CMO of the Levi’s brand. The company, which saw its U.S. sales flatten this year, is reconnecting to its roots, with a new message, “Live in Levi’s,” that woos the general market with a focus on the historic 501 product line. Marketing and ads from FCB and The House Worldwide are launching throughout July, including a TV and cinema spot, digital ads and social marketing to share real-life customer stories. But while Levi’s is positioning itself for the masses, please don’t call it an “everyman” brand.

Adweek: How does the new TV and cinema spot “invigorate the brand’s soul,” as you like to say?
Jennifer Sey: The work shows males and females of different ages, sizes and races—both hip and not-so-hip. There’s a man in his 70s and a four-year-old girl. It’s more inclusive and more product-focused. Like the brand, it’s optimistic and uplifting with soul, but it’s not serious.

Is Levi’s becoming more of an everyman brand?
I wouldn’t say that. Rather it’s the brand for everyone who has a spirit of individuality and wants a vehicle of self-expression. Our customers wear their jeans in their own way.

In a category wracked with promotions, how will reorienting your brand help?
It’s no secret that our marketplace is strongly price- and promotion-driven. But people choose our brand because they love it. This marketing is designed to decommoditize us, putting greater distance between us and our competitors, based on something besides price.

Is e-commerce becoming more important?
Yes, I was svp of global e-commerce here before taking this job [last] September. So I have that orientation. We recognize that e-commerce is where people buy and where they do research. It’s a growing channel for us.

In the past, Levi’s has rallied around sustainability. Is that shifting?
No, sustainability is core to our company. Our line of waterless jeans, which save resources in the manufacturing process, make up 15 percent of our product line. We also are heavily involved in recycling. Going forward, our marketing will include a whole plan about sustainability.