Despite Massive Under-Employment, “We Are All Workers”

It may be a holiday weekend, but Levi’s wants us to know “We Are All Workers.”‘

To go with the ad above, Levi’s, Wieden+Kennedy and The Sundance Channel also produced an episodic documentary about the plight of Braddock, PA, a rust belt town that’s been hit particularly hard by economic forces. Here are the first two episodes:
We Are All Workers: Episode 1 – The Seeds of Change
We Are All Workers: Episode 2 – The Mayor
Dan Goldgeier and I discussed this campaign during his visit to Portland this week, and he said he’ll be impressed when Levi’s puts a manufacturing plant in Braddock. I have to agree. In 1965, ninety percent of the clothing we wore was manufactured in America. Today that figure is five percent, in large part because companies like Levi’s and Nike–W+K’s oldest and best client–choose to exploit cheap labor in overseas markets.
There’s little doubt that this work clothes campaign is compelling advertising, but advertising alone will never get the job done on Main Street, USA. And advertising that hides a company’s true identity isn’t the kind of advertising that succeeds in a radically transparent culture.
The “We Are All Workers” campaign also extends beyond Braddock’s borders. Levi’s is conducting workshops in printmaking (and other trades) in select cities.

Again, I like the ad and I like the idea that Levi’s is willing to go there, but it’s not enough to emphasize the red, white and blue values of the brand, while failing to address the core reality of where and how these products are made.
Previously on AdPulp: 94111 And 97209 Rally On 15104’s Behalf



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.