Levi's Thinks It's a Good Time for Riot Imagery in Ads

Questionable timing for new European spots

It's a little risky to embrace youthful rebellion in advertising right now, given that the real-world examples involve so much looting and burning. It's odd, then, that Levi's isn't at least delaying the release of its new European ad campaign—which features somewhat menacing imagery of young people gathering, marching, and confronting riot police, along with shots of stuff on fire. (Says the voiceover: "You can't beat death. But you can beat death in life, sometimes.") The ads were certainly created before this week (the one below was posted to YouTube today), and you could say the agency, Wieden + Kennedy in Portland, Ore., was simply prescient in capturing the zeitgeist. But with people dying in London, it's a poor time to be exploiting such imagery to sell denim. UPDATE: Levi's does NOT think it's a good time for riot imagery in ads. The company now says it's postponing the release of the campaign in England. Or at least, the cinema and Facebook ads are being delayed—the YouTube spot apparently will remain up. Says a rep: "We are deeply disheartened about the unprecedented events taking place in the U.K. at the moment and which have impacted communities across the country. While 'Go Forth' is about embodying the energy and events of our time, it is not about any specific movement or political theme; rather, it's about optimism, positive action, and a pioneering spirit. Out of sensitivity for what is happening in the U.K., we have temporarily postponed our cinema and Facebook spots in the country."