NEW YORK Levi's wants customers to get in touch with their inner beast.
The San Francisco company has launched a new viral effort it hopes will attract young men to pass along videos of customized "beasts" emerging from the button-fly of Levi's jeans. At Unbuttonyourbeast.com, visitors can choose from nine different animated characters with names like Trout Troutman, Paul the Pincher and Sock Nasty, then customize the beast's message by calling a toll-free number. The effort, unsurprisingly, is geared to young men just out of college.
The e-mail arrives with the subject "Do you dare to unbutton my beast?" Users can customize the message to friends. The default borders on the risque, reading, "There's something I've been meaning to tell you, but I don't want to freak you out. That's why I'm sending my beast to do my dirty work." Senders receive a confirmation e-mail that their message was sent -- along with a 15 percent off coupon for jeans.
Omnicom Group-backed EVB created the effort, its latest try at viral success. EVB and Toy New York created "Elf Yourself," the runaway hit for OfficeMax the past two holiday seasons. Doug Sweeny, director of brand marketing at Levi's, was hesitant to shoot for "Elf Yourself" numbers, but admitted he "would be pretty disappointed if only 100-200,000 were sent."
"We expect it to go pretty big," he said. "We think it's ripe for the pass-along social-media space."
Daniel Stein, CEO of EVB, said the shop worked to create a site racy enough to attract a hard-to-please young male demographic without going overboard. As shown by Axe and the more recent viral effort by Diesel, that line can be fuzzy.
"Levi's has always been a brand that's willing to take risks," he said. "They've always been on the forefront of innovative marketing."
The site is part of the recently launched "Unbutton" campaign EVB created for Levi's. That effort encompasses a dozen up-and-coming celebrities featured in a print and digital push. The ads offer a glimpse of the real person behind the almost famous and their downloadable content.
As part of an effort to invigorate the Levi's brand, it has made several forays into viral marketing. Cutwater was brought in to do several YouTube videos. One featuring a man jumping into pairs of jeans has drawn more than 4 million views on the site.
"It's a brand that sits in the middle of pop culture," Sweeny said.