When the Levi’s sales decreased in the 1980s, they brought out a new line of TV advertisements in hope to boost the image and sales from ‘my Dad’s jeans’ to ‘rebalware’ for teenagers and young adults. In the 1950’s jeans gave the image of being hardworking and cool, it projected a ‘strong’ image for the wearer, boosting his/her confidence and self-ego. The main audience were young adults, mainly men. In this essay I will compare three adverts, Russia, Pawnbroker and Bath. Russia shows a young man in his mid 20’s at an airport in Russia, we can tell this from a big picture of Lenin on the main wall.
A solider checks his suitcase, the man is nervous, the solider brings out a James Dean magazine, this is set in the 1950’s when the cold war was in ‘action’, a war of ideas between America and Russia over Communism. James Dean is an American movie star and a classic representation of rebelling. Then a senior officer marches by, the crowds in the main hall move to let him by, showing he is a figure of authority. He salutes the soldier, and the man set off into Russia. There are images of deserted streets and hintings of somebody or something watching him.
He enters a sinister flat building, all the flats look the same. He hurries up the stairs and enters his room. Relieved as he closes the door behind him. He opens the suitcase, throwing everything out of his suitcase he brings out a carefully hidden paper bag. He retrieves from this a pair of Levi’s. The end shot shows the jeans carefully folded with the label highlighted in red with the brand name. Underneath a slogan reads slogan ‘There’s Levi’s and there’s jeans’. It is set in 1950’s Russia during the cold war.
It is shot in black and white to project a cold and dreary effect on the advert maybe also adding a ‘spy’ look about it. The music is classical and boring with a slight influence of military, representing Russia in all its glory. Russia at this time was a highly controlled country, with hefty laws and punishments, setting the scene for rebelling. It is set in an airport, the man has just arrived and is checking in. there is atmosphere of tension as the soldiers carry guns and everything is in order and organised. The image of Lenin on the wall brings in to context the history of Russia.
When the solider checks the man’s case. He brings out the James Dean magazine, a representation of America and a rebel image. There is a shot of a deserted street, like a ghost town. It’s eerie and fearful. Eyes are watching his every move. The flats come into view, each one is the same, and there is no individuality originality everybody is equal and the same. This is when the Levi’s come in; they represent the missing originality and freedom. At the end of the ad when they show the Levi’s and the brand name etc, the label is red showing originality and some that is different and stands out from the rest of the advert.
The music changes to a saxophone with a jazzy and relaxing beat showing a change of character in the advert and man. The main character in the ad is our Levi’s man, he is very nervous, which is obvious via the conditions he is under. He is smartly dressed in a dull suit much like everyone else again defying originality. He is quite good looking and well groomed, as all models are. He acts as normal as he can, putting on an act to cover up his fear and nervousness. He is rebelling against the law, being different.
A role model, ‘you will be a rebel if you wear these jeans’ is what it is trying to say. The second one I chose was Pawnbroker, this is set in a down town city location. It is the poor area where all the troublemakers and criminals are expected to live and stereotyped around. A young couple run out of fuel so stop off to get some. They have no money so the man gets out and enters a pawnbroker to try his luck. He tries his watch first, the owner examines it and shakes his head, he already has enough watches. Next he tries his sunglasses; again it’s a no.
So he gives up and walks to the door when then owner calls him back and points to the jeans. The ad next shows him at the car widow from the woman’s point of view, he waves a wad of cash. He opens the door revealing awful white trousers, the woman laughs, he laughs, he enters the car. The next view is of the pawnbroker owner carefully setting out jeans with the caption ‘Originals have always been sough after’. It is set in down town America with run down hoses/flats and back alleys to represent, trouble and again rebelling.
It is a sunny, lazy afternoon with mainly dull browns and oranges as the main colours a bit like the movies. The music is ‘ Nobody’s home, but the rent’ by B. B King. It looks as if it is set I the late 70’s early 80’s Originality is represented when the pawnbroker only accepts the Levi’s and not the watch or sunglasses, giving the impression that only Levi’s will do. Freedom is represented through the car; the couple has no plans of hanging around and appears to be on a journey or maybe just a road trip. Our main man looks hot, smooth and a bit laid back.
He wears Levi’s and plain T-shirt. He behaves in a joking way at the end, he is humiliated by the white jeans but laughs at himself knowing he looks like a fool and accepting it. Again his image is the stereotypical rebel, saving the day. The woman is pretty and wears a dress, she is not featured much, but is obviously his partner or friend and laughs at him when he wears the white trousers, showing she is also laid-back and game for a laugh. The third one I have chosen is bath; it appears to be set in down town America in the 60’s’70’s in a flat/apartment.
There is a man working out. He puts his jeans on and looks at photo of woman, possible girlfriend. There is a police siren outside, but you can’t see the car. He then gets into bath with jeans on and holds a drink in one hand, hinting this is a time consuming task. It is set in the 50’s/60’s, which was the heyday of jeans and youth culture. The siren and downtown look represents the classic rebelling image. The image of the woman represents the feminine side of the ad and loving side of Levi’s man.
This time our Levi’s man is the classic Levi’s man, with the flicked back hair, white boxers and tight top, he is working out he wants to feel good and look good. Maybe for the woman in the picture. He looks hot and sweaty; he is good looking and fit in both aspects of the word. He is obviously up himself and is our typical laid-back, smooth Levi’s man. When he gets into the bath it is unusual and strange, we laugh at the idea, but he is willing to go to that much trouble to look good. All the adverts are very different, but are also very much the same.
Most of them are set in Downtown City style America; Russia is an exception but still features the rebel image. They are all set in the 50’s to early 80’s era, the time of sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll. They all explore youth culture and individuality. The time of rebelling and freedom, again with the exception of Russia, which seems to just be a kick-start into the ad campaigning. They all feature Levi’s man, our typical Levi’s man is the ‘smooth criminal’ in Levi’s, a tight top and boxers, he always seems to find away to strip on or off the jeans during the ad.
He is a laid back hero who manages to save the day in some context. However in ‘Russia’ he is completely different, he still has the classic rebel image. But has no time to worry about his hair or appearance, he is to tied up in rebelling and being courageous. Each ad seems to show a different aspect of Levi’s man; there is no set Levi’s man just our stereotypical view of him. However different he looks, behaves or acts he will always be a rebel, ‘women want him, and men want to be him’. Levi’s woman hardly features, showing jeans as a more masculine item of clothing.
But when she does, she is always either wearing the jeans or admiring the jeans or man in them. The models are always good-looking young people, giving the message that ‘you will look good if you wear Levi’s. This line of ads shows jeans as being something for the younger members of society, the ‘generation x’. They are portrayed as being cool and trendy with the ultimate originality and rebel image. I think this campaign was a good way to bring back Levi’s, and was successful at doing so. But whichever way you look at it, it all leads down to just being another way to boost sales and make more money.