Initially, the three-year linkup with SFX Live will give the jeansmaker year-round presence in 25 SFX venues in the top 50 U.S. markets, showcasing live music acts of emerging bands via a second stage sponsored under its brand name. On these second stages a separate show will be produced and run before the primary show commences. The working title: "Levi's First Stage."
1,000 SHOWS A YEAR
SFX produces some 30 to 40 shows a year at each venue, giving Levi's a platform of 1,000 shows per year to reach approximately 10 million primarily youthful concertgoers.
For its money, Levi's will also get title sponsorship of a national radio program focusing on new artists and syndicated through the radio arm of SFX Entertainment, the parent of SFX Live. Additionally, Levi's will get a yet-to-be determined amount of advertising time, as well as exposure in SFX's print and electronic advertising for the concerts.
The deal dovetails with Levi's strategy to build ties with musical events and therefore with the youth groups that favor both cutting edge music and cutting edge jeans. In a February study by the Zandl Group, a New York-based marketing consultancy, Levi's brand "coolness" factor among teens plunged 13% since 1986, while other brands have posted astounding growth in that arena. The Mudd brand jumped 700%; Lei, 433%; American Eagle, 300%; and Tommy Hilfiger, 117%.
SALES DROP 13%
Levi Strauss' sales fell 13% in 1998, prompting the company last month to close half of its 22 U.S. and Canadian factories and lay off 5,000 workers.
The SFX deal joins other Levi's tries at staying hip, including sponsorship of Grammy winner Lauryn Hill's first worldwide tour, Lilith Fair and the MTV Video Music Awards, along with the company's products being prominently featured in the upcoming MGM "Mod Squad" film.
These are among the steps the company is taking to put Levi's sales back on track this year, said Robert Holloway, VP-marketing for the youth category at Levi's. In fact, he said, the brand already has halted its sharp decline (AA, March 1).
"We are surrounding the consumer," said Mr. Holloway.
The sponsorship will be a standout because it breaks from tradition. Typically, music corporate sponsors attach themselves to a single tour or artist. This deal, however, is aimed at giving the marketer consistency in touting its brand to a hard-to-reach demographic.
NOT OFF THE SHELF
As such, SFX Live said the deal was customized. "This is not an off-the-shelf program," said David Sass, president of SFX Live.
For SFX, the deal is one of several it hopes will link its venues with its radio programs. Previously, the company struck an agreement with the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority in which SFX Live will produce events in Las Vegas and tout the desert city as a destination location in its other venues across the U.S.