EVB ‘Unbuttons’ Bunch of Levi’s Next-Gen Celebs

NEW YORK Estelle might not be a household name, but Levi’s is banking on the British hip-hop singer as part of its “Live unbuttoned” campaign for 501 jeans. Estelle is one of a dozen up-and-coming celebrities featured in a print and digital push Levi’s is launching later this month. The ads offer a glimpse of the real person behind the almost famous as well as downloadable content about them.

With Estelle, Levi’s is running print ads with copy that reads: “Music represents life, everything you do and everything you’re about.” Readers are invited to “unbutton” Estelle at Levis.com, where visitors can listen to and download samples of her music.

“We wanted to be true to what Levi’s is all about,” said Doug Sweeney, director of brand marketing at Levi Strauss & Co. “These artists and athletes really embody the spirit of what ‘Unbuttoned’ is all about.”

The digital push follows last month’s global launch of the overall “Unbuttoned” brand campaign created by Bartle Bogle Hegarty. Levi’s has enjoyed viral success with 10 videos produced by Cutwater; another six are slated to run by the end of the year.

“The real heart and soul of the idea is the idea of living unrestrained by conventions, free from inhibitions, free to express yourself,” said Emma Cookson, CEO of BBH, New York.

Levi’s is hoping to reach a college and post-college crowd with the work, banking on the lure of exclusive content from newcomers like rapper Wales, singer Nikka Costa, BMX rider Jamie Bestwick and celebrity scourge Perez Hilton. Users can click through to purchase the jeans the stars are wearing in videos on the site.

“We’re quickly moving to a place where we have to have a more ongoing dialog with consumers. We know content is king at the end of the day,” Sweeney said.
Print ads are running in publications like Fader, Vibe, Complex and Rolling Stone. Levi’s will launch Web ads on music sites and destinations with a high propensity of younger visitors like online study guide SparkNotes.

The campaign is a product of Omnicom digital shop EVB, which was originally contacted by Levi’s to work on a viral concept like the “Elf yourself” OfficeMax campaign it has crafted the past two holiday seasons in conjunction with Toy New York. It is preparing to release a Levi’s application in the coming weeks along the lines of “Elf.”