Levi Strauss & Co. might have started as a jeans purveyor, but it has since moved beyond its single-product roots into a more diversified mix of apparel offerings, including a robust global T-shirt business nearing $1 billion in sales. At 165 years old, Levi’s is a lifestyle brand for the masses.
Few brands—and logos—have had such enduring appeal, especially at a time when the apparel and retail landscape is littered with the bones of denim rivals. Levi’s was near the graveyard itself nearly two decades ago. A merchandising overhaul that moved away from trendy but forgettable offerings into a collection with a more long-lasting, classic appeal, combined with an invigorating marketing platform and focus on digital innovation, have helped the brand avoid such a fate.
Under CEO Chip Bergh’s leadership, the San Francisco-based brand is hoping to grab more apparel market share through modernized tech and customization offerings designed to court younger consumers. It’s also creating a tourist destination with the opening this month of a new 17,000-square-foot flagship store in Times Square. And it’s weighing in on social issues like gun control to resonate with youth increasingly looking to marketers to take on causes.
A large part of Levi’s recent resurgence can be traced back to the “Live in Levi’s” marketing platform, which positions the label as a brand for all activities, like road trips or cliff jumps or even weddings. Under the marketing helm of Jen Sey, SVP and CMO. Levi’s unveiled the tagline four years ago with advertising agency-of-record FCB West. The brand is also steadily increasing its marketing investment. Last year, Levi’s spent $47.4 million on measured media in the U.S., up from $34 million in 2016, according to Kantar Media.
“They got back to what the brand stood for,” says Simon White, chief strategic officer at FCB West. “It was back to being an inclusive democratic brand for everyone—from rock stars to hippies to businessmen. That all-inclusivity is what propels it forward.”
Such a “welcome to everyone” attitude was particularly evident in Levi’s “Circles” spot last year, one of the most-watched ads on YouTube. In the 90-second piece, various individuals, ranging in ethnicity, age, and religion, demonstrate their kind of dancing. “Men, women, young, old, rich, poor, gay, straight. Let’s live how we dance. Live in Levi’s,” flashes onscreen at the end of the video.
Source: Pasquarelli, A. (2018, November 6). How Levi’s Remains True Blue After 165 Years. AdAge.