Levi’s positions itself ‘back at the centre of culture’ with $96m global campaign and stadium launch

Levi’s, the 160-year old denim brand, has launched a $96m (£56m) global campaign centering on user-generated content as it looks to place itself “back at the centre of culture”.

Led by the Live in Levi’s project, which asks consumers to upload images or messages to tell stories about their favourite moments wearing Levi’s products, the campaign aims to reinvigorate its relationship with traditional customers, and also hopes to attract a wider consumer base among the 18-29 year-old demographic.

“It’s a really simple idea, the whole campaign is centred around storytelling – telling stories around the things people have done in their Levi’s,” Jen Sey, global chief marketing officer at Levi’s told The Drum in a UK exclusive.

“We were inspired by all the letters we receive from consumers and so we just wanted to create and facilitate a space for the stories they are already telling about Levi’s.

“I would say the three goals of the campaign are to assert the brand’s denim leadership, to tell authentic self-expression, which is really our point of differentiation, and to put the brand back at the centre of culture again as opposed to on the fringe.”

The campaign, which follows on from Levi’s previous Go Forth push, marks an “optimistic new direction” for the brand as it looks to emphasize its traditional products such as the 501 jeans, which have been "re-imagined" to reflect current trends.

“It’s about… that notion of being democratic but also very inspiring and then an optimistic thread – we’ve really been at our best when we can convey an optimistic mind set, which is inherently youthful and what’s more optimistic than the young?”, said Sey.

The Live in Levi’s campaign will launch in the US at the end of July with a cinema and TV spot, while the Live in Levi’s project, which will sit on the main website, is set to launch globally with a social film on 4 August.

The TV ad will air in Europe in September – the first time the denim brand has advertised in the region via TV in five years.

A live launch event, which is planned in New York City during the first week of August, places music at the heart, a direction in which Levi’s is looking to steer, according to Sey.

“We’re going to start to lean hard into music. It’s something we’ve always had a strong association with, musicians have always chosen us from Kurt Cobain to the Ramones to Willy Nelson to Bruce Springsteen to more contemporary artists today.

“They love Levi’s because they’re so authentic and people with an authentic voice have always chosen Levi’s, so we’ve always maintained that connection but we’re going to lean harder into it.”

As part of this the majority of events connected to the Live in Levi’s campaign will feature music at the core, and the brand will champion up-and-coming vocalists such as blues singer Jamie N Commons who features in the new campaign spot.

Another way that Levi’s is aiming to re-invigorate itself is via a a 20-year, $220m naming rights agreement for the new Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, San Francisco, which will be the home of the city’s American football team, the 49ers, and also serve as a music and event space. The agreement sees Levi's serve as an official sponsor, with premium interior and exterior branding of the stadium.

Sey said that she hopes the stadium, which opens in August and cost $1.2bn to build, will assert Levi’s as an influential, contemporary brand.

“There have been times in our history where we have sort of chased the edge of culture, and what we like to say is that we need to play to the coffee house and the stadium – it’s both and that’s what makes this brand unique because it can actually do both at the same time.”

Levi’s is also looking to leverage mobile over the coming year, a platform that continues to be “increasingly important”.

Mobile currently accounts for 10 per cent of Levi’s e-commerce business in the US and around 4 per cent in Europe, and the brand is experimenting with iBeacons, and has placed native advertising within Vevo and Instagram.

“[We have] some other stuff coming too with newer shopping apps which haven’t even been announced yet, so we can’t speak to it yet, but one that allows us to sell one of a kind products… Mobile continues to be increasingly important in addition to digital and we’re looking to ways to engage consumers through mobile.”

The Live in Levi’s campaign is the first work developed out of a collaboration between Foote, Cone & Belding, The House Worldwide and the Levi’s brand.

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