Levi Strauss & Co. this fall targets businessmen in two of five new ad campaigns, first as an object of teen contempt in TV spots for its new line of Wide Leg jeans, and then as a customer for Slates, new men's casual dress clothing.
The marketer has set an annual budget of $130 million for the multiple efforts, designed to bolster its market share. Foote, Cone & Belding, San Francisco, handles.
"They are responding to an eroding share of market," said Alan Millstein, publisher of Fashion Network Report.
Levi's has been feeling heat from The Gap and from private-label jeans at its prime retail outlets--Sears, Roebuck & Co. with its Blue Canyon line and J.C. Penney Co.'s Arizona brand. Now Ralph Lauren is preparing to re-enter the jeans market at a lower price point and Tommy Hilfiger plans an aggressive launch of his jeans line. "The brand of the moment for the youth market is Tommy Hilfiger," Mr. Millstein said.
In Levi's first campaign for Wide Leg jeans aimed at 9-to-14-year-old boys, spots break Aug. 5showing tough-looking boys in urban settings, such as emerging from a New York subway station labeled "Bronx only." In one scene, the camera catches the wary glance of a middle-age man in a suit and tie. In another spot, the boys march through a group of executives forcing them to scatter.
The commercials--tagged "Make room"--foster a feeling of rebellion.
The spots will run on network prime-time programs such as "The Simpsons," "Star Trek: Voyager," "The Parent 'Hood," and in syndication on such fare as "Saved by the Bell" and "WWF Wrestling," and on MTV: Music Television.
ARRIVAL OF SLATES
In mid-August, Levi's will launch its Slates casual dress pants. It created the Slates line to bridge the gap between men's business suits and casual attire, such as its Dockers. With Slates, Levi's hopes to gain share in the growing $1 billion-plus men's dress slacks market, now dominated by traditional slacks marketers Haggar Clothing Co. and Farah, as well as The Gap's Banana Republic chain.
Other new work includes an evolution of its Jeans for Women campaign which, for the first time, moves away from the strictly artistic renderings dubbed the "Blue Lady" to include a spot produced by Pixar, of "Toy Story" fame.
The commercial uses computer animation of real-life footage of a dancing hula doll, which transforms into a woman in jeans and sunglasses who drives off in a red convertible.
The latest in the flagship "501 Reasons" campaign, now in its second year, adopts a longer story line in the new spots.
In "Pool Boy," a youth is cleaning a pool at the estate of a crime kingpin whose young girlfriend is sunbathing. The woman slips Pool Boy something, but the guards who frisk him are unable to find anything. "Reason No. 050. The fifth pocket, overlooked since 1873."
In another campaign evolution, the silverTab jeans brand for men has moved away from its original b&w ads to a vivid color campaign in which young adult social situations are seen through the eyes of a voyeur--such as a piranha in a fish tank or a security camera in an elevator. For the first time, silverTab also will advertise in women's magazines.
Levi's new efforts also shift media buys away from network TV and into cable and new media.
For example, Levi's 501s will appear only on late-night network and National Football League game telecasts, with key buys on MTV and Fox and magazines ranging from Paper, Swing, Details, Axcess and RayGun to extreme sports publications such as Thrasher and Skateboarder.
New media include free postcards for Jeans for Women from Pik:nik; the Women's Wire on the Web; and Blender, an entertainment-focused CD-ROM distributed in book and record stores.
Copyright July 1996 Crain Communications Inc.