Sources familiar with the campaign, said the ads - launched by Foote, Cone & Belding here in the summer of 1992 - had been highly effective in generating sales and positioning Loose as a distinct, fashionable line. At the same time, the work - which some insiders disparagingly referred to as 'boys on the beach commercials' - gave Levi's an image that they feared can negatively impact its other lines.
'There's concern that Levi's are starting to stand for something other than what Levi's has always stood for,' said one source familiar with the advertising. 'When you have young boys doing cartwheels in the air and no women in a Herb Ritts-style commercial, it sends a message that is much more suited to a Calvin Klein than to a 'genuine original.' '
Ritts' highly stylized spots feature muscular males, running, jumping and performing acrobatics against a background of sand and water. The only spoken words are the tagline 'Everything basic evolves.' For the third quarter ending Aug. 29, 1993, Levi's sales rose 5% to $1.56 billion from $1.49 billion.
FCB referred inquiries to Levi's. Dave Marsden, senior advertising manager for Levi's Mens Jeans, said he had never heard such concerns voiced, and the company was happy with the Ritts work. He denied the change of directors was tied to any anxiety over the company's image. 'We feel very comfortable with Herb's work. It was absolutely appropriate and is doing a phenomenal job building the brand,' he said.
Marsden said the company discussed the need to evolve the work with Ritts, Pytka and other directors, but found that Pytka best grasped the direction in which Levi's wanted to next move the campaign. He added only that the campaign would seek to create more of a 'personality' for the product now that the introduction is complete. He said the new commercials will air sometime in 1994.
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)