Levi Unbuttons Another 501 Effort

Two months after the release of the “Unbutton Your Beast” viral campaign, Levi Strauss has debuted yet another in-your-face effort. Four hundred taxicabs whizzing through the streets of the Big Apple have started carrying outdoor media displays for Levi’s 501 jeans.

Ads, via Show Media, New York, depict a pair of jeans unbuttoned to reveal the number 501—just enough to grab a passerby’s attention. The ad buy extends into New York Fashion Week in February 2009.

The effort follows Levi’s online “Unbutton Your Beast” campaign, via San Francisco agency EVB, in October. Geared toward a male college audience, the campaign allowed consumers to create and send an e-card containing one of nine different animated “monsters” that pop out of Levi’s 501 jeans. While the site did create buzz, it also came under fire for its suggestive use of advertising, particularly relating to younger viewers.

Levi’s, however, boasts that the taxi displays are already grabbing attention, in a positive way. “We’ve gotten unprecedented response to this, and we’ve had people call us since,” said Show Media president John Amato, adding that a watch brand, movie entertainment and vodka company are all in prospective talks to launch similar efforts. (Levi could not be reached for comment at press time.)

Part of the campaign’s effectiveness may stem from its timing with the holiday season, Amato said. “It’s the big shopping season of the year and taxis are really pushing that message. If you go down Fifth Avenue or to SoHo, there’s really no outdoor media that’s hitting people before they buy. This is interacting with customers right before they walk in the stores,” he said.

Levi Strauss spent $70 million on U.S. advertising in 2007 (exluding online expenditures), and $35 million through September of this year, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.