Hark! What ad through yonder telly breaks?

BBH Bartle Bogle Hegarty, London have created a twist on Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" for their lasted work for Levi's. Directed by Noam Murro, the ad is the work of Copywriter Nick Gill and Art Director Mark Shillum and began airing on February 14th.

The modernized version of Shakespeare's fairy story takes place not in the woods but on the streets of Los Angeles. Bottom is played by model turned actor Joshua Alba and Titania is played by Amanda Sudano, Donna Summer's daughter.

The Telegraph reported that even though the language is "complex and archaic", Levi's doesn't think it will go over the heads of their young target audience.

"I think we underestimate young people today. Our research shows that they understand it immediately," said Kenny Wilson, brand president for Levi's Europe.

He said that Levi's chose A Midsummer Night's Dream as the basis for its new advertisement to be different and stand out. "It demonstrates independence and freedom of thought. Young people appreciate the fact that it's not the same as anything else on television."

Levi's is hoping the £21 million campaign will help reverse a seven-year decline which has seen its sales plummet by 42 per cent.

And the Media Guardian reported that "Kenny Wilson, the brand president for Levi's Europe, denied 501 had lost its way despite increased competition from fashion brands such as Diesel."

"Levi's is about being the original jeans brand. It is that simple. Original is about being the first of its kind and about doing new things in fashion and brand communication.

He said Levi Strauss had to take risks and innovate in its advertising because of its legacy of memorable advertising campaigns.

The Media Guardian also noted that the ad will be dubbed into Italian, French, Spanish and German and subtitled in Scandinavian countries. In continental Europe, the opening title will be changed to identify the play and scene, which was though to be too obvious for audiences in Britain.

What's interesting about this particular part of the play that they chose to use, is that in the originial version, this is where Puck gives Bottom the head of an ass, and Oberon puts Titania under a spell so that she will fall in love with the first "vile" person she sees. And at the end when the spell is lifted she returns to loving Oberon.

This seems a strange point to be making about Levi's. Although, perhaps the target audience for this will not analyize the plot in that manner. The ad does stay true to Shakespeare's words. But for those who know Shakespeare, it does seem an odd route to take, especially when there are other probably better plays and scenes to pick from which would not have the connotation of someone wearing their brand being an ass and a woman falling in love with him only because she is under a spell or drugged. I do have to wonder if the copywriter for this spot actually understands Shakespeare or even read/watched the play, considering the way they misrepresent the text.

Not that it's really any surprise but opinions on the ad vary. What do you think? Will this spot help reverse Levi's declining sales?

about the author

caffeinegoddess I'm a creative director and copywriter with digital, integrated, and traditional expertise. I love sound strategy and great executions.

Comments (6)

  • silver3's picture

    Hark! Someone doth rented "Romeo & Juliet" on DVD with Claire Daines & Leo DiCaprio after being briefed methinks.

    Mar 14, 2005
  • AnonymousCoward's picture
    AnonymousCoward (not verified)

    Murdering us...Noam's a solid director but haven't been blown away by him of late...& really well lensed...plus a great agency of distinction here...but it's really wanky stuff with cheesy dialogue...BBH may bestride the narrow agency world like a colossus, and we petty men may peep about to find ourselves dishonourable graves, but I still think it sucks...no chemistry either! Pity the gang didn't kick the shit out of that guy...

    Mar 15, 2005
  • Dabitch's picture

    Isn't this scene one of the funnier ones in "a midsummer nights..."? I find it a tad odd that they turned it into something romantic when it's kinda slapsticky....
    But we all agree that Joshua Alba is hot right?

    Mar 15, 2005
  • caffeinegoddess's picture

    Yes it is. I think the humor goes away when they don't follow the text with visual interpretation...like, the fact that Bottom has the head of an ass when Titiana falls in love with him and thinks his "shape" is hot. If you're going to do Shakespeare do it well or don't do it at all. This is misinterpretation and mutilation of Shakespeare is honestly something I'd have expected from an American agency but not from an English one.

    Mar 15, 2005
  • Dabitch's picture

    Hahaha! Yeah, well that's the part of the ad which rubs me the wrong way.
    Campaign dug it though.

    Pick of the week - Bartle Bogle Hegarty/Levi'sCampaign 25-Feb-05 13:03
    James Hamilton has been seduced by Bartle Bogle Hegarty's latest commercial for Levi's: "I'll admit, when I first heard BBH was going to 'do a Luhrmann' for its next Levi's ad, I was more than a little cynical. Maybe it's because spring is in the air, though, because everything about the ad - its choice of dialogue and cast, and the way it's been shot - is spot-on. The guy's jeans look a bit on the baggy side, though." The ad was written and art directed by Nick Gill and directed by Noam Murro.

    Mar 17, 2005
  • caffeinegoddess's picture

    The ad was written by Shakespeare. No copy changes. No writing credits for the copywriter. Concept credit sure. But credit for writing Shakespeare's words? Please.

    Mar 17, 2005