This is what’s wrong with advertising

Apparently, Levis has had to delay the UK launch of its Go Forth campaign because the ad features some kids getting all riot-y.

Personally, I think the attempted association of a certain type of blue cloth with living an incredible life of freedom (to fuck shit up) demonstrates beautifully why this industry is disliked by so many.

“We’re in touch with all corners of the world and want to be sensitive about what’s going on in the U.K. and, specifically, London,” said Rebecca Van Dyck, global chief marketing officer of Levi’s, noting that the brand continues to monitor the situation. “While ‘Go Forth’ is about embodying the energy and events of our time, it is not about any specific movement or political theme; rather, it’s about pioneering spirit.”

Excuse me while I vomit.

An enormous corporation suggests, by undeserved association, that its products lead to a way of being that it thinks will appeal to people who might buy said products. Sure, people have done cool things in the past whilst wearing Levi’s, but the connection between the two is not one of cause and effect.

People do great things wearing many items of clothing (and sometimes no clothing). People do stupid and pathetic things while wearing Levi’s. All the company and agency are doing is stealing what they consider to be ‘cool’ in order to sell more jeans – Nothing more, nothing less.

And now we can see how empty it all is: hundreds of thousands spent on shooting a model in Levi’s going up against riot police rings really hollow today. The guy now looks like any one of the arseholes who have been ruining London over the last week.

Wear Levis and embody his ‘pioneering spirit’? Incredibly enough, I’m going to pass.

Comments 19

  1. dave trott wrote:

    Just saw the commercial in the article you linked to.
    It’s a great ad for BBH.

    Posted 10 Aug 2011 at 10:35 am
  2. Steve wrote:

    Bad timing and your (very true) points aside… the ad’s just a bit shit, isn’t it?

    Posted 10 Aug 2011 at 10:45 am
  3. Naughty Creative wrote:

    Dick van Dyck more like…

    Posted 10 Aug 2011 at 10:47 am
  4. dave wrote:

    Agreed. This really riled me. Up there with Vodaphone for taking credit for the Egyptian uprising.

    Also amazed W+K can *keep* doing the whole ‘poetic narrative’ over ‘stirring imagery’ thing.

    For Levis, for Nike, for Chrysler, for Delta etc.

    Maybe time for a new house style?

    Posted 10 Aug 2011 at 11:14 am
  5. Blah wrote:

    Stinky VO.

    Posted 10 Aug 2011 at 11:31 am
  6. J. wrote:

    The VO sounds like a sober Tommy Chong. And I don’t mean sober to mean good in this case. Have to agree with Steve – it is indeed a bit shit.

    Posted 10 Aug 2011 at 11:59 am
  7. Chris Seiger wrote:

    This is what advertising says when it hasn’t got anything better to say. Instead of saying something pertinent, it says nothing in a flowery, uplifting or otherwise emotionally charged way.

    I agree. W+K needs to a) find a new shtick or b) find a product that has something flowery or uplifting AND pertinent to say.

    And to say Delta’s difference is its people is about as helpful to the brand as a medication competing on the differences of its side effects.

    Posted 10 Aug 2011 at 1:23 pm
  8. john w. wrote:

    I’m wearing m&s jeans…

    Posted 10 Aug 2011 at 1:33 pm
  9. mary wrote:

    im a bit pissed off they stole an utterly beautiful piece from bukowski. and bukowski was the most self-destructive man ive come accross in literature so far, which makes it slightly ironic.
    good points you raise, ben.

    Posted 10 Aug 2011 at 1:45 pm
  10. The Real Richard H wrote:

    The american Go Forth stuff from a couple of years ago was quite nice – the one with the Walt Whitman poem.

    This is shite. What were they thinking??

    Go Forth and Multiply, more like.

    Posted 10 Aug 2011 at 2:02 pm
  11. Lubomir wrote:

    I think Jeep Grand Cherokee Manifesto was a lot more Levi’s than this campaign. What happened with the two horses that can’t destroy a pair of jeans? Now we have an ode to life garnished with ass shots, and a supermodel that is “marvelous”…

    Delaying it, and I am sure editing it for your market shows that it’s one “brave” and “ballsy” brand.

    Posted 10 Aug 2011 at 8:46 pm
  12. Anonymouse wrote:

    if i was 16, i would think these riots are cool as fuck

    which means they probably are cool. whether we like it or not.

    Posted 10 Aug 2011 at 9:29 pm
  13. A Suffer Can wrote:

    When has trying to make good work (despite the result) being a bad thing?
    It’s fine to shit on the idea not the process.
    Ben, what the fuck are you, an advertising man or anal-literal doos?

    *South African word- look it up.

    Posted 11 Aug 2011 at 9:05 am
  14. glendolino wrote:

    Levi’s may keep giving the peeps eviL’s (according to Vicky Pollard) but their denimantle has been hijacked by Diesel who suggest that they are a requirement ‘For Successful Living’… how did we ever manage before Diesel eh?

    Posted 11 Aug 2011 at 9:57 am
  15. Bo Davis wrote:

    What’s with the matrix style surveillance upload notice that just appeared whilst I was on this page?

    Posted 11 Aug 2011 at 2:56 pm
  16. mary wrote:

    just been to the goforth website. i have to say that i am a bit more pissed off now. its not just levis who do this kind of thing. but a whole lot of more companies. what im talking about?

    companies have a responsibility in societies. they cant just take our money, work and resources, and thats it.

    listen, all you head honchos out there: if you want to do something, do it. its your fucking responsibility anyway. im inclined to hate your marketing bollocks if you try to get rid of YOUR responsibility by making it dependent on fucking clicks – bribing people into telling their friends and getting them ‘involved’ – whether, or how much, youll give back to people you cheated out of money and resources.


    Posted 11 Aug 2011 at 5:53 pm
  17. mary wrote:

    did i say i dont like the spot for trying to cash in on societal movements they dont have anything to do with? no? now i have. also its romanticising the shit people go through in various parts of the world. fuck that.

    Posted 11 Aug 2011 at 6:05 pm
  18. Kim wrote:

    I wholeheartedly agree with your words. I find myself thinking the same thing on a daily basis, but it seems so futile and counterproductive trying to voice these opinions in a society that’s success depends on consumerism.

    I suppose what bothers me most is that, like you say the admen are hi-jacking our good times. As a result, it sort of cheapens the good times. Every intimate pocket of your lifestyle has been plundered by advertising. It’s impossible to have ‘unique’ or ‘authentic’ experiences anymore because at some point they will have been used to sell something.

    The problem is, with such a large number of (largely pointless) aspirational products propping up our economy, how can we reduce the level of mentally polluting consumerism in our society without affecting our quality of life?

    I actually work in advertising, shamefully. I love to design, but there are so few outlets for such a profession that don’t involve the forces of marketing. Career change suggestions welcome.

    Posted 12 Aug 2011 at 12:35 pm
  19. Ben wrote:

    Just wondered what your thoughts were on the American ‘Go Forth’ campaign?

    Apologies if you’ve previously posted on it.

    Posted 30 Aug 2011 at 4:14 pm

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