Stolen Jeans, the story of not stolen copy-concept

Fans of Badland know that sometimes, twin ideas just happen. Blame it on syncronicity, similar thought patterns, the idea Gods or aliens, or just a bad-idea-day, no one knows exactly why it happens... But we do know that it does. Read more to see three very original stolen jeans ideas from three different countries all appearing independent of each other.

photo thanks to Mårten at, via this thread (in Swedish).

Way back in 1989/1990 poster sites in Sweden were plastered with real Levis jeans that were silk-screened with the word "stolen" on the legs.

The campaign was a relaunch of the classic cut and created by Lars Liljendahl (Art Director) and others at the ad agency Rönnberg & Co.

I phoned Lars to ask him about this campaign, and to tell him about the Wrangler copy. I wanted to get his input on whether he thought they might have seen his campaign.

Lars said that while they did create some films to go with the campaign - they shot 'security cam' type footage of the poster sites at night when kids stole the jeans off the posters - the campaign did not appear in the Cannes Lions award or any international awards back then. Making it unlikely to have been well known outside of Sweden.

The "stolen" jeans appeared on posters and proved so popular to steal that an extra supply of stolen-silk screened jeans had to be made and sold in stores. For the posers. 

"It was the Café Opera crowd back then, the 'stolen' jeans idea took on a life on its own and was hugely popular."

"Cannes (Lions) was mainly film back then, so while it was a notorious campaign in Sweden at the time, one of the first 'guerrilla' type campaigns it didn't get much international attention. It's likely that the Wrangler thing is just a funny coincidence, these things happen you know. I really doubt that they heard of the old Levis campaign all the way down in Holland." Lars said over the phone.


Later, in 1995 another Levis campaign played on the "steal these jeans" idea, way over in the United States, the only information I could find on this campaign is at advertising

A campaign by Levi Strauss hung a pair of Dockers pants, worth about $55, under plastic shields in Manhattan bus shelters. The pants were on top, and a part, of an ad for Dockers. The ad had the word "Nice" at the top and the word "Pants" at the bottom. If the pants were stolen, the following message would be revealed in their place: "Apparently they were very nice pants." The Mayor and others were upset, claiming this ad was encouraging people to vandalize the bus shelters. Gannett Outdoor, which sold the ad space, agreed to remove the ads. Lawrence Van Gelder, "Advertiser Agrees to Rescind 'Invitation' to Steal Trousers," The New York Times, September 27, 1995, p. A1.

Now, in December of 2004 the "steal these jeans" idea appears again with a slight twist, this time it's created by BSUR Amsterdam.

I tried getting a hold of Jan Rijkenberg to hear what he might think of the earlier similar ideas but he's a busy man, but BSUR did send us these images to show.

Here, the jeans are Wrangler instead of Levis and are painted with the word "WANTED" then frozen into a block of ice. The ice-blocks were dumped in Berlin and other cities where curious onlookers who realized that the jeans were free for the taking begun chipping away on the ice to get themselves a pair.

Time will tell if the "wanted" jeans become as popular as the "stolen" jeans were back in the early nineties.

The Creative posse at BSUR in Amsterdam were Rodger Beekman, Jarr Geerligs and André Bouwman, while account was handled by Jane Thomas, Judith Kampman.
The frozen block of jeans crushes a Mercedes in the heart of Berlin.

Tactical guerrilla actions in three German city centers. In several places in the cities ice blocks were lying about as if they came out of the air. In the ice were Wrangler jeans with WANTED sprayed on them. The public was free to do with the blocks and jeans what they wanted. The ice blocks were touched, they were being chopped, climbed and people stared at them. Promotion teams made pictures of the interaction of the people and the 1 ton ice blocks throughout the cities. The pictures were placed in ice displays at the retailers. The windows of the retailers and the Wrangler clothes in them were prepared in a way that they looked frozen. In that, way the ice invasion connected from street to the shops and created the wanted store traffic.

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Dabitch's picture

Whoohoo. Here's a news clip about the 1995 Dockers campaign.