Latest Web strategy spreads Levi content

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Levi Strauss & Co. is experimenting with an Internet marketing approach that refashions the World Wide Web with the emphasis on "Wide."

In a new fall campaign for its high-end Silver Tab line, Levi Strauss plans to develop more than a dozen Web sites that interweave stories of the journey of three fictitious Americans, dubbed "urban nomads," on a trip to Morocco. Online creative includes photographs, videos, diary entries, electronic postcards and e-mails from the three characters to their friends and families. "The standard way to [advertise on the Web] is with multiple banners linking to one same experience," said Jim Stone, Internet marketing manager for Levi Strauss. The new campaign "is more about spreading content thin and wide instead of narrow and deep," he said.

Called "Lost But Not Lost," the campaign has traditional elements, such as billboards in New York and a print effort running in 16 magazines including ESPN, the Magazine; Maxim; and Rolling Stone. Spending was undisclosed. It also has created postcards of the three characters posing with camels, natives and other things they've encountered on the journey to be distributed in restaurants and retail stores. The postcard campaign broke in August; the Web sites started to go up in late September.

TRACKING DIFFERENT APPROACHES ONLINE

A cinema spot, running in 85 markets through Lowes and Cinemark, was tagged with lostbutnotlost.com. Different sources of information about the Moroccan tale will have different URLs, allowing Levi Strauss executives to determine how different creative approaches fly on the Web.

A second source of traffic is a number of "distribution sites," Levi Strauss' partners which place on their Web sites a kaleidoscopelike graphic that allows users to jump to the "Lost" story sites. Those partners include iMovieStudio.com, Shockwave and Omnipod (see story).At iMovieStudio.com, which shows behind-the-scenes filming of movies, a behind-the-scenes view of the "Lost" cast is offered, including interviews with the director, photographs and the day-to-day production on the Moroccan trip. At the Shockwave site there is a "Lost Shock" game. At Sony.com, a camera charms a snake. Additional partners will be signing up "as the campaign grows," Mr. Stone said.

NEW WEB EFFORT IN THE SPRING

Visitors to the various sites will find "a unique experience depending on the site you're on," he said.

The first phase of the campaign, following the three "Lost" characters, will run through the end of the year. A second round of the story, along with some new characters, is expected to be developed for Silver Tab's spring effort. Levi Strauss said it's still analyzing data to see how successful its Web marketing effort is.

A NARRATIVE ON THE WEB

The campaign, targeted at 18-to-24-year-olds, particularly college students who tend to have fast Internet connections, was inspired by Brian Boigon, CEO of ThinkThinkThink, Toronto. He came up with the idea of creating a narrative path around the Web. Others involved included Jon Bain, founder of Lateral, a London-based Web design agency, as well as executives at TBWA/Chiat/Day, San Francisco, which handled creative and production. The film and photographs were shot by photographer Albert Watson.

Levi Strauss long has been a leader in developing new approaches to online advertising, experimenting with animated branded icons called ICandy in 1997 and targeting girls that same year in partnership with Splam.com.

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