LEVI'S REPOSITIONS SLATES WITH $12 MIL DRESS-UP AD EFFORT: BRAND'S NEW ADS FROM FCB SAY PANTS OFFER SEX, MONEY, RESPECT TO THE WEARER

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With casual style dominating the male wardrobe, Levi Strauss & Co. this week calls on men to dress for sex, money and respect instead.

The campaign for the Slates pants line, tagged "It's time to get dressed," is targeted to males ages 35 to 49 and includes TV, print and outdoor advertising.

A promotion will offer free dinner during a night out.

DRESS-UP = REWARDS

"Dress better and get stuff" is the strategy, said Jeff Iorillo, senior VP-group creative director at Foote, Cone & Belding, San Francisco. Although men don't like to dress up, "there could be rewards for this," he said.

Jann Westfall, president of the Slates brand at Levi Strauss & Co., said the company is trying to change the perception of dress pants as "dark pants found in a black corner in the back [of department stores] where Dad bought pants," when they are just as easy to wear as khakis.

The estimated $12 million effort marks an adjustment to the product's positioning.

In addition to dropping the "dress" pants classification for the brand, Slates is re-emphasizing its connection to Levi Strauss in the ads and by adding the corporate name to its waistband tag.

PHONE PLAY

In one new spot, a breathy woman calls a man relaxing in a stylish lounge chair and asks what he's wearing. When he says just pants and a shirt, she hangs up. She calls back, but this time he answers that he's wearing a shirt and Slates pants. Conversation ensues.

The outdoor ads, scheduled to run in 13 major markets starting in September, will include copy tailored to the site, with longer captions at venues such as train stations.

For example, one board reads: "You are taken. You are spoken for. You are out of the picture. But every now and then, those lascivious glances still come your way. Beneath that mild-mannered facade there is a lion. And though you can never stray from your den, deep down you know it. They know it. You are still . . . the hunter."

TV spots will run on broadcast in spot markets and on national cable in the spring and fall, mostly sports and financial programming.

SLATES WEB SITE

On May 20, Slates will launch a new Web site (www.slates.com) offering information on restaurants and wine selection.

The "City Style" promotion will offer consumers a free booklet with tips on etiquette -- presented in a humorous tone -- and recommendations for top restaurants in 10 U.S. cities based on the Zagat Survey. Those buying Slates will get a $25 dining certificate good for a free companion entree.

Slates, launched in late 1996, dominates the dress pants brands sold in department stores, with a 30% share in stores where Slates is sold. Haggar is second, with a percentage in the high teens. Slates is sold in more than 2,000 stores, up 20% from last year.

Separately, Levi Strauss last week broke its first campaign from TBWA Chiat/Day, San Francisco and Venice, Calif., an outdoor effort noting competitors Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Kelin wore Levi's.

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