THE MARKETING 100;JIM CHRISS;LEVI'S FOR WOMEN

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Jim Chriss has a personal and business motto: "To thine own self be true," or as he puts it, "Number One, know who you are."

That's a philosophy Mr. Chriss, VP-general manager of women's wear at Levi Strauss & Co., relied on to reshape women's jeans advertising and provide a bright spot in the marketer's U.S. sales last year.

Mr. Chriss, 52, shepherded the animated "women in motion" TV campaign, one of the spots being named by Advertising Age as belonging in the 50 Best TV commercials in TV history. Through artistic sketches of women moving through love and a slew of other emotions, the advertising took jeans advertising from exhibiting sexuality to high romance.

The campaign, from Foote, Cone & Belding's San Francisco office, struck a particular chord among female jeans buyers because it dignified all types of women.

"Women come in all sizes, shapes," says Mr. Chriss, "and it's OK. Levi's jeans can fit you no matter who you are."

Levi's moved into an innovative manufacturing development at the same time-the personal pair, custom-fit jeans for women. In the move toward mass customization, created by Mr. Chriss' group, customers' measurements are transmitted by computer to a factory, which produces custom-fit jeans.

Since 1991, when the product remodeling began, sales of Levi's women's jeans and related products jumped fivefold, to what industry sources estimate will approach $600 million this year. The growth helped push Levi's women's jeans unit sales up amid a flat, heavily discounted men's jeans market.

The campaign also helped propel Levi's into a leading position in women's jeans, long dominated by competitors such as Lee.

While the job of Mr. Chriss, a 28-year company veteran, will be eliminated by next year in a reorganization, the master of women's jeans marketing isn't going anywhere. He's also director of corporate marketing-custodian of one of the world's most famous brands-a role he'll keep.

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