Byline: Scott Malone

NEW YORK — Levi Strauss & Co. is getting into the high-priced Super Bowl marketing frenzy with its first TV ads for the National Football League’s championship game.
The ad spots are a nod to the current vintage-denim trend. Pegged to the relaunch of the company’s 569 men’s style, the spot, created by TBWA/Chiat/Day, offers a fictional look into the approach the company could have taken in producing the worn-looking style of jeans.
The ad, called “Donor,” is constructed as a three-part series. The first 15-second spot, which will be broadcast on MTV and ESPN beginning Friday, Jan. 26, shows a jeans-clad twentysomething riding a tiny three-pony carousel and begging its operator to turn up the speed.
That ad will be followed up with a 30-second spot in the second quarter of the Super Bowl, which opens showing the carousel rider, apparently thrown from his mount, lying unconscious on the ground. A team of paramedics arrive, discover that the prone man is a “donor,” and take off with the donated item — his jeans. A short helicopter ride later, they present the jeans — retagged and labeled — to a man wearing boxer shorts.
For the Monday after the game, the company will follow up with a 15-second sequel spot, which shows the carousel rider regaining consciousness, bewildered by the disappearance of his pants. That piece, like the teaser, will appear during Super Bowl-related postgame shows on ESPN and syndicated NFL programming.
The company will also show a 60-second version of the donor ad that day.
Chuck McBride, executive creative director at the San Francisco-based ad agency, said the company doesn’t plan to continue broadcasting the ad — part of its ongoing “Make Them Your Own” campaign — after the Super Bowl postscript.
“This was about trying tie a product idea into a media event,” McBride said in a phone interview. “You isolate your media and create a concept around the event.”
He said he was pleased that the ad tied in so closely to the specific product message — the 569 jean is heavily washed and treated to produce a worn look.
Levi’s will also show the 15-second preview piece on its Web site, levi.com, starting Jan. 21. Beginning the day before the Super Bowl, the company will begin showing the 60-second complete ad on its site, as well.
McBride declined to comment on how much Levi’s was spending for the 30-second spot during the game or for the entire campaign. When asked whether the Sunday evening CBS spot would be the most the company had ever spent for 30 seconds of TV time, he replied it was “up there.”
Thirty-second spots during the Super Bowl are reportedly selling for $2.3 million to $2.4 million this year.
Still, he said he thought Levi’s was wise to advertise during the Super Bowl — the jeans giant’s plans to do so were first reported in WWD in December.
“This is a large-audience brand,” he said. “This is a mass brand and the Super Bowl is a great mass media event.”

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