That just-right sensibility is rare. And it's missing from this new campaign for Women's Dockers. After the overwhelming success of the men's line, Levi's and FCB are obviously sensitive about extending that big manly anchor (the logo remains the same) to women. (After all, not only have Dockers introduced a new pleated fashion look to a generation of men, but early ads also pioneered the pelviscam.)
But in an effort to assure women that the clothing is really made for them, we get a mishmash of traditionally feminine images. About the only thing not included is the line "made by Levi's and a team of female gynecologists."
Where early Dockers ads for men conveyed ease, spontaneous talk and friendship--emotive qualities usually associated with women--these spots are oddly remote. Women are shown with children or alone. The spots strain, but they never really connect, because there are too many sensibilities at war here. First, there's the use of babe-acious models in oddly traditional contexts (hauling apples, gardening or baking a pie). That's at odds with the tribal, woman-warrior, hear-me-roar music. Then there's the snappy, pragmatic, let's-talk-about-these-pants voiceover.
The cinematography is beautiful, and the music is interesting, but the women seem strangely blitzed out, as if they came from some robotic planet. It's as if the campaign is an ode to motherhood, apple pie and Prozac. Imagine an ex-Breck girl gardener on Thorazine, or an ineffective Martha Stewart backed by a raging Hallelujah chorus.
"Slice of Pie" features a woman with a million-dollar body in her million-dollar loft, baking said pie. She's barefoot in khakis. She's shown running to the oven. (Women who run with khakis?) The payoff seems to be that after all of her careful kneading, rolling, slicing, arranging and waiting at the oven door, she burns the pie. Is this supposed to be progress?
"Eden Revised" is set in a backyard, where a mother and child run in slow motion. It suggests early Clairol ads and is as beautiful as a similar setting in a recent AT&T spot. But we never really get the emotion of the mother-child link; instead we hear about a shirt.
"Hot Dog" shows off a model with a killer body walking a killer dog. "There are these pants," the voiceover tells us. (In this case, the announcer is no longer pragmatic, Midwestern khaki gal, but a woman a with much richer, deeper, poetic voice.) This model is supposed to be a photographer/writer type, and as we hear a chorus of odd "dadadadadas," she bangs on her antique typewriter, walks her dog, and throws wads of paper around her model/artist living room. The trouble is that these pants, which appear to be black leggings, will never look this impossibly perfect on any other body.
Actually, the 15-second versions of the commercials are better--they focus on a single moment and seem less schizophrenic. The spot that's the best of all is the whittled-down version of "Hot Dog." It's been reduced to the tribal music, the voiceover and the image of a typewriter hammering out the word "herself." Despite all the warring elements and the mixed signals, the quality of the spots is still high. To be honest, what's missing from this picture are women with actual hips.
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)