In May 2001, a relatively new auction site called eBay had the media world abuzz. For sale was an artifact, dated to 1880, and dug up from the mud of a forgotten Nevada mining town. Web surfers stared wide-eyed as collectors bid the item up to $25,000, and then $35,000, before the auction suddenly closed with an offer of $46,532.
Levi's is trying on a simple, straightforward message in its first big push since reuniting with longtime agency FCB (and also hiring The House Worldwide) in February. Unveiling a global campaign tagged "Live in Levi's," the iconic brand is using print ads and posters to show twentysomethings strolling around, cavorting and generally enjoying life while clad in Levi's denim. Copy lines include "A classic since right now," "Fall head over heels" and "Look good on your way to what's next." "It's intended to be both inclusive and inspiring," CMO Jennifer Sey explains on Levi's Unzipped blog. "It's a celebration. It's not cynical. Or dour. Or overly serious—as many fashion and style-oriented brands can be. It's fun. People have fun in jeans. It should be fun." Digital and social elements are also in the mix, along with TV and cinema ads launching next month from director Fredrik Bond, who lensed the memorable Cannes Lion-winning "Simon the Ogre" mini-epic for Thomson Holidays. Recent efforts from previous agency Wieden + Kennedy, themed "Go Forth," weren't cynical, exactly, nor dour nor overly serious, though some observers believe they worked too hard to be cool, plugging into the zeitgeist while sacrificing Levi's unique heritage. I kind of agree. There were some memorable moments, but, overall, "Go Forth" seemed to be flying by the seat of its pants, chasing random hipness. The back-to-basics approach of "Live in Levi's" strives for a more comfortable brand fit. It's well-shot by photographer Jason Nocito and nicely understated, though it risks blending in with all the other fashion ads that show happy/moody young people who like wearing clothes. To be fair, that's a very preliminary impression. Print is, after all, just the first leg of a multifaceted campaign.