Byline: Sara Gay Forden

MILAN — Wrangler is hoping its new, hard-riding advertising campaign, featuring rocking rodeo stars and bucking bulls, will help narrow the gap with Levi’s in Europe, according to Brussels-based European marketing director David Smith.
“We have a very clear positioning, and that is that we are selling authentic Western jeans,” Smith said. “We feel that Levis owns that sexy, boy-meets-girl advertising formula for jeans, and it doesn’t make sense for someone who wants to challenge them to use that formula,” he added. “We hope to rewrite the rules of advertising with these ads,” he said, noting that the campaign was developed by London-based agency Abbott Mead Vickers, a unit of BBDO.
The campaign, which was shot in Houston, Los Angeles and Little Rock, Ark., hit the screens in the U.K. April 1 and will be broadcast across the rest of Europe starting today, Smith said, noting that the media buy for this year totals around $24 million (15 million pounds). An accompanying print campaign is still under wraps and will be rolled out in the fall, Smith said.
“If you think bungee jumping, snowboarding and base jumping are exciting, wait till you see this,” said Smith. “We’re talking getting on a bull that is essentially a 2,000-pound killing machine. It’s a life and death activity,” he added.
Although jeans statistics aren’t available for the whole of Europe, Smith estimated that Wrangler holds about 5 percent of the European market compared with Levis’ 25 percent. “We’d like to make a big jump,” Smith said. “Rather than be a distant second, we’d absolutely like to close the gap in the medium term.”

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