Levi’s 501 Takes Taxis in NYC

NEW YORK Two months after the release of the “Unbutton your beast” viral campaign, Levi Strauss has debuted yet another in-your-face effort. Four hundred taxi cabs whizzing through the streets of New York have started carrying 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 EVB, San Francisco, 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, a movie and a vodka company are all in prospective talks to launch similar efforts.

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 advertising in 2007 and $35 million through September of this year, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus.