In its zeal to become the authoritative men's 'fashion consultancy' on the Web, Levi Strauss' Dockers site has shed most of the content not directly focused on the brand in favor of wardrobe hints, a comprehensive listing of retailers and, eventually, real-time customer support. The division of the San Francisco apparel marketer intends to at least double its Web budget for 1998 to $1million to $2 million.
Last month, Dockers pulled one of the glitzier entertainment areas on the site, a game, starring a fashion consultant, called The Mission. The game was 'well received,' said Heidi Oestrike, director of marketing for Dockers, 'but I think it was off our strategy.'
Unlike its younger-skewing, sister site, Levi.com, Dockers.com has had limited on-line promotional support since its debut in September 1996. Levi's is a sponsor of ESPN SportsZone and other youth sites. Dockers has bought keywords such as 'khakis,' and 'business-casual' on Yahoo! and sponsored content on Golf Magazine's Golf On-line and HotWired's Dream Jobs, said Oestrike.
In October, Dockers will implement new content to compile a larger database. 'We're going to be asking more than just what's your waist size,' Oestrike said. Next spring, Dockers intends to introduce a round-the-clock 'on-line customer support network' at which visitors can get instant fashion tips.
Levi's key competitor, VF Corp., is in the midst of remaking a gateway for its labels, which include Lee and Wrangler. VF shut down an on-line soap opera, Threads, in April because it felt the characters were drawing more attention than the brands.--Bernhard Warner
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