Levi's- Go Forth: Pretentious poetry with a capital P.

 
 
 

Levi's- Go Forth: Pretentious poetry with a capital P.

So, this is a new Levi's commercial. it's evolved the campaign to be less about America per se and, well...did I mention the VO is a poem? It is! And here is Kidsleepy's commentary as a poem in response.



This is Levi's 2012.
Stitched and hemmed,
Tailor made for the Peter Pan
Who does no work except
Working really hard to look lived in.

But it began in 2009, with a quiet big bang
The voice of an eloquent journalist teacher
Preaching on scratchy vinyl,
Calloused thumbs closed around belt loops
In dungarees,
A man named Whitman, imploring The New American Pioneer
To look forward, go forth, make something,
Never go back.

But oh! To have armchair quarterbacked,
Just this once,
To have glanced through that dark glass
Instead of turning a gaze away
From our America,
Our Uncle Sam, Our Lady Liberty.

"Because this country wasn't built on suits."

(Or skinny kids with shaved chests, either.)

You didn't build that road, hipster. You didn't build that.
All you did was loot.

There is no royalty to your name,
Your pockets are lined with trust fund gold,
The only thread that binds is your parents'
umbilical cord.

Are you joking, Are you joking, Are you joking, I hope you are, You,
When the only "carry on," your new demographic knows
Is an ironic slogan emblazoned on
On a 40 dollar t-shirt.

Face it, you're a kid,
Kid,
And the Pioneers
Will never have the young, good-looking
And self-absorbed leading them.
No Twee man-child will save them.

Even Jesus grew up.
And He didn't do it wearing jeans.
So please, please, please,
Don't go forth.
Go whence!
Give us that Jingoistic hard on, once again, baby.
Because Braddock needs its cock teased,
And we want more
Morning Wood In America,

Please God, no more College Sophomore
Poetry Slams again.
For fuck's sake,
Don't fuck us twice like this.
There's a reason poets
Find romance only the past,
In country as a long-distant concept,
And not men.

This is a pair of Levi's. And they're fading.

Client: Levi Strauss & Co.
Spot: "Thread"

AGENCY
Agency: Wieden + Kennedy, Portland, Ore.
Creative Directors Tyler Whisnand / Eric Baldwin / Don Shelford
Copywriter Erin Swanson
Art Directors Jimm Lasser / Monica Nelson
Producers Sarah Shapiro / Kirsten Acheson
Account Team Andrew Schafer / Jessie Young
Executive Creative Directors Mark Fitzloff / Susan Hoffman
Agency Executive Producer Ben Grylewicz
Business Affairs Cindy Lewellen
Strategic Planner Andy Lindblade

PRODUCTION
Production Company Park Pictures
Director Lance Acord
Executive Producers Jackie Kelman Bisbee / Mary Ann Marino
Line Producer Caroline Kousidinis
Director of Photography Lance Acord

EDITORIAL
Editorial Company Joint
Editor Tommy Harden
Post Producer Lisa Ashe
Post Executive Producer Patty Brebner
Assistant Editor Eric Hill

VFX
VFX Company A52
VFX Executive Producer Jennifer Sofio Hall
VFX Producer Matt Olmon
VFX Artists Andy Raphael Barrios / Scott Johnson / Bruno Parenti / Christel Hazard / Matt Sousa / Dan Ellis

SOUND DESIGN
Sound Designer Tommy Harden
VO Artist Renee Faia

MIX
Mix Company Eleven Sound
Mixer Jeff Payne
Producer Caroline O’Sullivan

Media Agency - OMD GLOBAL
Global Group Account Director Marcus Strijdveen
Group Director of Strategy Carrie Davis
Supervisor Jacqueline Thames
OMD US
Group Director of Strategy Carrie Davis
Supervisor Jacqueline Thames
Digital Director Matthew Ross
Senior Digital Strategist Donica Shye

Commercials: 
Country: 

Comments

Ah, but Kidsleepy; "This campaign can’t be knocked out with one punch. It'll get right back up again, and when it does the world is going to hear the roar of its engines.". Poetry and mixed metaphors is like the hottest thing, next to skinny jeans and living in Williamsburg, dontchaknow.

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

I think you're completely missing the point of the spot. It's easy to focus your lens on the style of the clothing and subsequently generalize those wearing it, but at the end of the day, hipster or not, the messaging speaks to a generation of young people looking for direction which to my knowledge isn't anything new or unauthentic. This article I think just uses a generally negative perspective of 'hipsters' (not that I like their style or perceived pretention) to degrade the story the work is trying to tell. Everyone is entitled to opinion but by bashing the poetic nature of the VO and highlighting a distaste for a certain group of indiviuduals, you've hardly proven a point, this seems more like a sloppy rant than a constructed article. Kid is legitimately sleeping, write a better story with better copy and execution for a real client and then criticize.

Kidsleepy actually has written better copy in better work for real (and better! Zing!) clients, but that doesn't make his point any more or less valid. This site is not about allowing only twenty-Cannes-gold winners to speak their minds about the ads we all see, as that would be a tremendously boring read and likely in Portuguese.

I suspect you may be missing the point, this campaign went from Go Forth the spirit that built this land ( America ) and these jeans rah-rah (which is the all-American-brands soul & USP if you will) to go-forth-everyone-under-24 and seriously, how large is that market considering the price of these jeans?

Dear Anonymouscoward:

First off, thank you so much for granting us here at adland the right to have an opinion differing from yours. It's so very gracious of you.

Secondly, you seemed bothered by my use of the word "hipster." I guess I pushed a button. My apologies. Let's call it "stereotypical youth." will that work? Becuase they certainly weren't breaking any boundaries with their lovely, thin and young casting.

How about let's talk about the ad instead, which, if you were careful to read my analysis, you'd realize that was exactly what I was doing.

The Under 24 demographic seems to be the holy grail for every client out there. They think they have all the dough to spend, so everything needs to be funneled to them. Having worked on Levi's before, I should know. It's easier to pull off in the European markets, as they're more expensive there. But in the States, not really. They're actually considered midrange or cheap. So it's a bit weird to focus on that area now.

Regardless of pricing point, the problem is by narrowing the market in such a way, they corrupted what has been a great, strong, and well-crafted campaign that is thought provoking as much as it was in some instances, divisive. Instead we're now appealing to the same demographic as every other denim company. Why is this? Why the change?

Levi's is an American brand, Levi jeans were initially built for work. Marry the two points, and voila. The first relevant and compelling thing Levi's has done in a very long time beyond just sex and youth and pretty people in varying states of undress. Something for America to rally behind. Youths and oldies alike. Walt Whitman started it off. And guess what? The jeans were secondary. People were wearing them, but they weren't the object of the camera's (or the vo's) affection.

To now take the idea, shift the focus away from America as a whole, and narrow it down to "youth culture," and play up the more tactile elements of the jeans makes this ad strategically not as compelling as before.

Poetry is subjective, granted. But advertising isn't. And guess what? This was written for a TV spot. This is an ADVERT. It's using poetry as a device, but it's not a poem. It's voice over copy. And It's overwritten. Again that's the fault of the shift in tone that loses the depth it worked so hard to create over several years worth of work. But there's not many times you can get away with using Walt Whitman in a spot.

And as to your last comment, as Dabitch has pointed out: we've been over this a hundred times before. Everyone who writes for Adland, writes, art directs and designs and creative directs for a living.

Thanks for the snark though, it's always appreciated.

So, couldn't this ad result in the gross volume of Levi's products increasing? It's not groundbreaking; it follows the formula of countless successful fashion ads preceding it. It has pretty, slim, young models in it because most jeans purchasers want to be pretty, slim, and young. It has a dimly poetic but reasonably accessible VO because while denim has always symbolized SOMEthing to every generation, it rarely symbolizes the SAME thing to every generation. The vaguely inspirational prose washes past the ears with a lowest-common-denominator warm fog of identification.
I can't work up authentic repugnance for this campaign.

I'd roll my eyes at it but that would require me to care.

"The vaguely inspirational prose washes past the ears with a lowest-common-denominator warm fog of identification.
I can't work up authentic repugnance for this campaign."

WINNER

(I've been reading too much Bruce Wagner lately.)

well said..
even i went 'wtf' after seeing the spot.. its just ridiculous for brands like these espousing empty rhetoric in the shape of grand philosophies.
I wrote a poem in response to it..
An empty shell
of decaf coffee and air conditioned adventures.
Running in the city streets
stamping out mindlessly
images of its own...

Here's the link
http://thejinxedone.blogspot.in/2012/09/anthem-for-21st-century-life-ima...

It's like sarcastic poetry slam.

I like sarcastic poetry slams.

One thing about this ad is better than most. The VO is a lady that reads bad poetry with a passion.

No hon, it went like this;
The "hip" young ad man/ woman said at the meeting...

"Hey, all the trust babies in Brooklyn have just discovered Patti Smith, this will be great!
They see her at fashion week hanging out w/ celebs in front row, they believe all her "grassroots" bunk as she arrives at yet another ceremony to be awarded as if she were the fucking Dali lama, Nelson Mandela or Maya Angelou.
We need a V.O person right away who can do a Patti read on this copy."
(As he or she gets patted on the back, they think to themselves)
How cool we are on Mad ave now?
Aren't we so fucking rad?

This spot is so corny it could supply the Iowa State fair w/ wrappings for their hot dogs.
"Take back the night" by ChiChi Valenti said it all, years ago, about this very thing and much better at that.

Wait...how is this "a campaign to be less America" (terrible sentence structure by the way)?

I believe the poem mentions "bottom of the 9th"; what is more American than baseball? I say tone down the anger, and perhaps even jealousy.

Throwing in "bottom of the ninth," in a long rant for Generation Instagram does not an American ad make. Showing fabulously dressed central casting of young people does not for a compelling ad make.

I am neither jealous nor angry about it. If you reread what I wrote, then you'll understand I was in fact bemoaning such a quick cheapening of what started as a great campaign. A campaign that was demographic agnostic, and spoke to the country as a whole, especially with their Braddock content.

This spot took a fantastic idea, put it in the oven and reduced it Shrinky Dinks-like to the usual pablum.

That, my Anonymous Coward, is what we call a shame.

Here's an interesting comment that never made it to the site because .... I have no idea. *kicks tires of comment box, checks the oil*

Is "Urban War Cry," another name for "Manifesto?"

Something of the sorts. I refrain from calling it a manifesto, because I highly doubt they will follow up on this ad and do something similar, to create consistency for their train of thought and corporate vision. I will go on a limb here and say that there are 3 types of ads (personal opinion):
- those that make you want to get up from your couch/desk and get involved in a movement
- those that get you to hug someone (teary stuff)
- those that make you laugh and leave you at that.
This Levi's falls in the first category.

The stuff you mentioned is definitely important, but to me, I think i would put those in your list under tonality rather than type of ad.

This is definitely a rallying cry/manifesto/stake your claim in the ground kind of ad. It's trying (and in my opinion, trying too hard) to reach the youth market.

For me there are two types of ads: those with an idea. those without an idea.

All the rest is execution and that is always up for subjective debate, if you believe in subjective debate.

1) it's an ad, they are supposed to use models. If they used the likeness of the critics on this page you'd think it was a weight loss campaign or a commercial for chronic depression.
2) I wear Levi's and I'm 22, they are my favorite jeans. I wear them because they are American made and they are nice. (Start hating)
3) I LOVE THIS COMMERCIAL! Because of the poem, which I just found out is real and not made for the commercial (either way its awesome), the models (mainly the one at the end because I just want to kiss her so much!), and because if the theme... It's nice to see young people working, being artistic, and having fun.
4) you people can with the negative comments SMD!
P.s. if you don't want the fxckxng jeans change the dxmn channel!!

I believe most are now mfg'd in China.

I'm an educated 40 year old female and I appreciated the ad with waifs and all. Kuddos for attracting my attention. I usually skip commercials.

I'm a 40 year old over educated female and think this ad is total wankery. (Seriously, up the critique level or we will end up with tenthousand comments like this)

I'm a thirty something year old overeducated male who creates ads for a living, majored in fiction and poetry, wears levi's is left-handed, and thinks this ad is total wankery as well.

As to whether the poem is real...I'm not sure what that means. What poet sits down and begins a poem with the line "This is a pair of Levi's?"

Oh but that totally happens all the time with previously published poetry. Poets are like rappers you know, they'll talk about brands. Makes it easy on the copywriter too all they have to do is google it. /SARCHASM

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood, in my Levi's
And looked down one as far as I could, past my Levi's

Yes poets are exactly like rappers. Just think about Dylan Thomas' most fmaous poem:

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Unless you wear your L.L. Bean cable knit sweater.

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
It was Domino's Pizza, in less than thirty minutes, with a query
"Did you order the meatlovers special?"

Judging by the comments people either love it or hate it. Does it move product?

Difficult to say. As how does one reliably prove an ad moves product?

The fact is, models are always going to be young, thin and beautiful. I'm just relieved to see a bit more of an ethnic mix on our screens, to be honest.

How different ethnically are they, really? There's a light-skinned black girl, some black guys (also light skinned), a few somewhat semetic looking people, a blond dude, and a girl that has brown hair and olive skin and could be a mix of anything. That's usually what we see in ads.

Where are the asians?

It just tries a tad too hard.

Wow. Much said about a dungaree. The VO ads don't sway me, mute button is king. Have fun building imagery that cannot come close to the actual history of blue jeans -- History of Blue Jeans with some nifty ads

Kidsleepy I find the level of ostentatiousness in the earlier ads a bore. This was funny.

:-)

IDK, if you go to Levi's website right at the top it says "made in the U.S.A."

This Levi's ad is pretty shit. There's pretty models. A pretty read. Some pretty city-scenes. Like a empty calorie breakfast it's all gone as soon as the ad is over.

No hon, it went like this;
The "hip" young ad man/ woman said at the meeting...

"Hey, all the trust babies in Brooklyn have just discovered Patti Smith, this will be great!
They see her at fashion week hanging out w/ celebs in front row, they believe all her "grassroots" bunk as she arrives at yet another ceremony to be awarded as if she were the fucking Dali lama, Nelson Mandela or Maya Angelou.
We need a V.O person right away who can do a Patti read on this copy."
(As he or she gets patted on the back, they think to themselves)
How cool we are on Mad ave now?
Aren't we so fucking rad?

This spot is so corny it could supply the Iowa State fair w/ wrappings for their hot dogs.
"Take back the night" by ChiChi Valenti said it all, years ago, about this very thing and much better at that.

"At once they will rise out of restless beds and rush out secret doorways.
NO PRESS KITS WILL PROCEED THEM.
They'll come silently, by taxi, through the ruins of the night city, to a basement lost
to the sleeping world.
They will push past the doorway curtains
Back to a room where the real Loleatta Holloway is wailing and a baby Jean Harlow waits
in bias-cut satin just beyond velvet ropes."

Add new comment

Top