Levi’s Goes Forth With New Work From Wieden

Levi’s is one of the most iconic brands in American history and in America today. Given that kind of solid bedrock to work with, a campaign that celebrates the Americaness of the brand seems like it might be a good fit.
Portland’s Wieden + Kennedy, which picked up the $80 mil. piece of business six months ago is about to find out if it is, or not.
Stuart Elliott of The New York Times says:

The “Go forth” campaign is replete with Americana imagery, in keeping with research indicating that teenagers and 20-somethings are patriotic and optimistic about the United States. Those elements include the poetry of Walt Whitman, flags, paeans to the pioneering spirit, declarations of independence, salutes to hard work and, in the star-spangled tradition of Madison Avenue, copious amounts of nubile flesh.
Doug Sweeny, vice president for Levi’s brand marketing, said the battle cry was to determine “how do we connect this 150-year-old brand with what is happening in the youth culture today.”

Personally, I like the reimagining of America concept. Not because it might sell more jeans. Rather, it might get some people thinking BIG thoughts about our collective future in this nation. For instance, we will celebrate our freedom this Saturday, but when is the last time you asked yourself, “Free from what?”
Historically speaking, American independence is about freedom from British taxation. But who among us celebrates freedom from British taxation? No one. Instead, we celebrate a conjured up notion of freedom that says we are free to barbeque, drink beer and set off fireworks. I’d like to suggest there’s a bolder path out there waiting to be discovered, one that isn’t about “freedom from” an imposed restriction. Instead, we might focus on “freedom to” remake ourselves, our businesses, our cities and our nation.



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.