Byline: Scott Malone

NEW YORK — Levi’s is introducing a new advertising campaign this week that carries the slogan, “Make Them Your Own,” on which it plans to center its future marketing efforts.
Sean Dee, brand marketing manager at Levi Strauss & Co., said the phrase is much more than a tag line for the company.
“We’re actually using it as a long-term strategic platform for the brand,” Dee said.
He explained that the slogan was chosen because of its broad appeal to adults as well as teens, who for decades have remained firmly committed to the value of self-expression.
“It expresses that Levi’s is the foundation for self-expression,” he said. “It’s not about a big logo being slapped on your shirt.”
He added that the company already has ads in production for the next 12 months incorporating the “Make Them Your Own” theme.
Facing flagging sales to younger shoppers, Levi’s in recent years put out several series of “cool” ads, which the company now acknowledges didn’t quite hit their target.
It’s a challenge to promote the brand, which needs to appeal to teen shoppers, but also can’t afford to turn off the older consumers who still buy a large chunk of its products.
In an illustration of the rarity of that challenge, Dee compared the San Francisco-based company’s efforts to that of another major brand.
“I can’t imagine Cadillac going after 16-year-olds buying their first car and saying, ‘It should be a Cadillac.’ We have to nail the job with young customers,” he said. “They are our future. They are the feeder system for the brand and, population-wise, a group that’s growing. But it can’t be at the expense of the 25-plus loyal customer that’s been our backbone for years.”
The print portion of the campaign is breaking this week in a 52-page supplement included in Vogue’s August issue, with additional ads slated to appear in upcoming issues of magazines including GQ, Rolling Stone, Cosmopolitan and Sports Illustrated.
The print ads show jeans wearers gazing at themselves in mirrors, which the company said demonstrates that they are making an emotional connection with their jeans.
Two groups of television ads are scheduled to break Aug. 14.
The “Dressing Room” campaign, filmed by director Spike Jonze, shows young people in dressing rooms trying on Levi’s jeans and moving to the music of Marvin Gaye. Targeted at 18- to 24-year-old shoppers, the ads will run on cable and broadcast networks including MTV, Comedy Central, WB, UPN, BET and ESPN2.
Another campaign, called “Fix It,” targeting a broader age group, will be shown during prime-time programming on the Fox network, along with MTV, USA, ESPN and TBS. The spot features a handsome Levi’s-clad superintendent being constantly called for repair jobs by the attractive young women who live in his building.
A third TV ad, featuring corduroys, will bow Nov. 6 for the holiday season. All the ads were created by TBWA/Chiat/Day.
While he wouldn’t disclose specific budgets, Dee said the company is spending more on this fall campaign than it has for the past several years.
As previously reported in WWD, the company will also be continuing its print campaign for Engineered Jeans, which began in April, into the fall and adding some TV ads.
Those ads do not include the “Make Them Your Own” slogan, because the company did not want to distract from the message of the new, redesigned product, Dee said.
Overall, 80 to 85 percent of Levi’s advertising nationally will be dedicated to the new brand slogan campaign, with the balance being for Engineered Jeans, though the balance will be skewed more towards Engineered Jeans in key urban markets.

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