Buddy Who? Lee Jeans Introduces the Lee Woman and the Lee Man

Denim Brand Returns to Can-Do Roots With GSD&M Campaign

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Lee Jeans today debuts a brand refresh, complete with TV spots, a new website and a digital push as a way to reengage customers who may have been drifting away.

The heroes of the new "Move Your Lee" ad platform are the Lee Man and the Lee Woman, who each appear in his and her own 30-second TV spot. The Lee Woman is "lean, mean and covered in jean," as she works as a physician, rides a motorcycle and takes care of her kids and husband. Similarly, the Lee Man likes to crash through boardroom walls and crushes having fun as he wears his "freedom pants."

"We created this purpose, this life in motion," said Kim Yates, who joined the VF Corp.-owned brand as VP of marketing from Procter & Gamble last year. "There's this playfulness, an unpretentious nature of who we are that's always been there in the humorous way we approach the consumer and we wanted to bring that back."

She noted that Lee's innovative fit, which includes stretch and cooling, wicking and warming properties in its jeans, allows its wearers to embrace a more active lifestyle. Interestingly, this "can-do" life was initially introduced by Lee's founder, Henry David Lee, who created the brand 127 years ago.

"From an innovation standpoint, we're still in sync with our founder, but from a communication standpoint, we weren't," said Ms. Yates, who noted that most consumers only remember ads featuring the doll Buddy Lee, which first aired over 15 years ago. VF Corp. purchased Lee in 1969.

The 30-second spots will also air in 15-second versions. A 45-second video will appear online that includes mini vignettes as well. Lee's new website debuted last week, and the brand is also rolling out new products for both men and women this fall. Omnicom's GSD&M handled creative duties, while Lee worked with Starcom on media and Hill & Knowlton Strategies on PR.

Ms. Yates declined to say how much the Merriam, Kansas-based brand is spending on the effort. Last year, VF Corp. dedicated $19.8 million, or 19% of its total spending on measured media in the U.S., to Lee, according to Kantar Media. Though VF Corp. does not break down sales by label, its jeanswear division, which includes Lee, Wrangler and 7 For All Mankind, represents $3 billion of the conglomerate's $12.4 billion sales.

Last week, Lee's sibling brand Wrangler unveiled its own new marketing campaign, which similarly highlights the adventure and boldness of wearing good denim.

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