Ad of the Day: Levi’s

A pair of jeans is a stupendous motivator in W+K's latest 'Go Forth' spot

Are you a young worker stuck in a dead-end job (or lacking one entirely) in an impossible job market in a horrible economy? Don't worry. Throw on a pair of Levi's, and you'll be ready to rule the world.

That's the underlying, not-quite-credible message of Wieden + Kennedy's latest work in its now 3-year-old "Go Forth" campaign for Levi's—as captured in the aggressively poetic, oozingly optimistic 60-second launch spot below. The ad, directed by Lance Acord, pushes the brand's fall/winter 2012 global collection, which Levi's says has "a refined and tailored look made for those who get dressed each morning with purpose." This isn't just about looking good; it's about doing good. The brand says the new creative direction sprang from "worldwide research that shows the youth of today believe it is up to them to make a positive difference in the world."

That sense of idealism is crystallized in the spot mostly through an echoing female voiceover, which recites street poetry (credited to the young W+K writer Erin Swanson) that attempts to connect the surface fashions of clothing to a deeper desire for progress in the world—both personal and global. "This is a pair of Levi's/buttons and rivets and pockets and cuffs/and the thread that holds it together," the voice begins. (The spot is called "Thread.") "When the road gets rough and the sky gets jumpy and the stars start falling on top of your head and the waves start breaking against your legs/It's the thread in your seams that's tied to your dreams/It's the sole in your feet that keeps the beat."

We see hip young urban types dressing for work, and getting ready to change the world in the process—jumpy skies and falling stars of a continuing global economic meltdown notwithstanding. As to be expected from a W+K production, the craft here is strong—particularly the visuals, which are nice little set pieces. But the writing is overwrought—a manifesto that feels more than a little pretentious when set against a glorified catalog in motion. The first "Go Forth" work, back in 2009, mostly got away with its poetic vibe (a recording of Walt Whitman, no less) by being more vague and mystical in its imagery. But try to move actual product, and grand statements about desire and motivation and the future of humanity will start to feel hollow.

"You're gonna be great, you're gonna be great, you're gonna be great," the voiceover insists, and it's like the spot is talking to itself rather than its subjects. Being idealistic and being stylish are two different things, usually at odds, and not easily merged without feeling phony. This spot fails to find the thread that might join them.

CREDITS

Client: Levi Strauss & Co.

Spot: "Thread"

AGENCY

Agency: Wieden + Kennedy, Portland, Ore.

Creative Directors: Tyler Whisnand, Eric Baldwin, Don Shelford

Copywriter: Erin Swanson

Art Directors: Jimm Lasser, Monica Nelson

Producers: Sarah Shapiro, Kirsten Acheson

Account Team: Andrew Schafer, Jessie Young

Executive Creative Directors: Mark Fitzloff, Susan Hoffman

Agency Executive Producer: Ben Grylewicz

Business Affairs: Cindy Lewellen

Strategic Planner: Andy Lindblade

PRODUCTION

Production Company: Park Pictures

Director: Lance Acord

Executive Producers: Jackie Kelman Bisbee, Mary Ann Marino

Line Producer: Caroline Kousidinis

Director of Photography: Lance Acord

EDITORIAL

Editorial Company: Joint

Editor: Tommy Harden

Post Producer: Lisa Ashe

Post Executive Producer: Patty Brebner

Assistant Editor: Eric Hill

VISUAL EFFECTS