London Riots Delay Levi's Global Campaign Launch in U.K.

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Levi's first global advertising has been public for just a few hours and already the brand is learning the importance of reacting quickly to local events -- in this case the London riots.

The spot, "Levi's Legacy," which was posted on Facebook this morning and will be running in cinema and on TV through the fall, features scenes from May Day, a day of sanctioned demonstrations and celebrations. Shot in Berlin, those scenes bear an uncomfortable likeness to the rioting that's been taking place in London since the weekend. And for that reason, Levi's made the decision today to temporarily postpone its TV, cinema and Facebook spots in the U.K. Already the U.K. version of the ad had been edited to omit those scenes.

"We're in touch with all corners of the world and want to be sensitive about what's going on in the U.K. and, specifically, London," said Rebecca Van Dyck, global chief marketing officer of Levi's, noting that the brand continues to monitor the situation. "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 pioneering spirit."

Len Peltier, VP-creative direction for Levi's, said the scenes shot during May Day were "in the spirit of positive action."

The Levi's team traveled to 13 countries in the course of developing the creative, and reviewed a global study of millennials. Countries including Australia, India, South Africa, Spain, Taiwan and Turkey will run aspects of the campaign. "We spoke to people of all ages about what was important to them and their values," Ms. Van Dyck said. "The insight for the concept is that young people want to create positive change in the world."

Levi Strauss & Co., Levi's parent company, does not break out spending by brand. According to Kantar, Levi's spent $57 million on measured media in the U.S. in 2010. Ms. Van Dyck said the global structure enables the brand's dollars to "work harder," as the brand drives a consistent message around the world.

Wieden & Kennedy handled creative for the campaign, which also includes digital, print, outdoor and in-store elements. OMD handles media buying for the brand. Both agencies took on expanded duties early this year, as the brand prepared to move toward global messaging.

Mr. Peltier said, for now, Wieden's U.S. offices have been sifting through the work coming in from offices in Amsterdam, Sao Paulo, Shanghai and Tokyo while Wieden and OMD iron out the global relationship. He said he fully expects that globally relevant ideas will emerge from offices outside the U.S.

Internally, Mr. Peltier said, Levi's teams around the world have fully embraced the new global approach, though there was "some initial nervousness. ... We casted for a global look and feel," he said. "It's much more real to be able to represent people from all over in the ads and not be region-specific. It was a great surprise for me that once they saw the film it didn't matter who [the cast] was. I thought there might be more pushback."

But all of this is just a warm up, Mr. Peltier said. Levi's is now preparing to launch its first global line of products, including denim and non-denim tops and bottoms for the fall 2012 season. "Part of this whole global change is still in process," he said. "It's the first time in the company's history that there will be a global line, [so] there will be some special noise around that launch."

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