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Ad of the Day: Levi's


Are you a young worker stuck in a dead-end job (or lacking one entirely) in an impossible job market in a horrible economy? Don't worry. Throw on a pair of Levi's, and you'll be ready to rule the world.

That's the underlying, not-quite-credible message of Wieden + Kennedy's latest work in its now 3-year-old "Go Forth" campaign for Levi's—as captured in the aggressively poetic, oozingly optimistic 60-second launch spot below. The ad, directed by Lance Acord, pushes the brand's fall/winter 2012 global collection, which Levi's says has "a refined and tailored look made for those who get dressed each morning with purpose." This isn't just about looking good; it's about doing good. The brand says the new creative direction sprang from "worldwide research that shows the youth of today believe it is up to them to make a positive difference in the world."

That sense of idealism is crystallized in the spot mostly through an echoing female voiceover, which recites street poetry (credited to the young W+K writer Erin Swanson) that attempts to connect the surface fashions of clothing to a deeper desire for progress in the world—both personal and global. "This is a pair of Levi's/buttons and rivets and pockets and cuffs/and the thread that holds it together," the voice begins. (The spot is called "Thread.") "When the road gets rough and the sky gets jumpy and the stars start falling on top of your head and the waves start breaking against your legs/It's the thread in your seams that's tied to your dreams/It's the sole in your feet that keeps the beat."

We see hip young urban types dressing for work, and getting ready to change the world in the process—jumpy skies and falling stars of a continuing global economic meltdown notwithstanding. As to be expected from a W+K production, the craft here is strong—particularly the visuals, which are nice little set pieces. But the writing is overwrought—a manifesto that feels more than a little pretentious when set against a glorified catalog in motion. The first "Go Forth" work, back in 2009, mostly got away with its poetic vibe (a recording of Walt Whitman, no less) by being more vague and mystical in its imagery. But try to move actual product, and grand statements about desire and motivation and the future of humanity will start to feel hollow.

"You're gonna be great, you're gonna be great, you're gonna be great," the voiceover insists, and it's like the spot is talking to itself rather than its subjects. Being idealistic and being stylish are two different things, usually at odds, and not easily merged without feeling phony. This spot fails to find the thread that might join them.

Client: Levi Strauss & Co.
Spot: "Thread"

Agency: Wieden + Kennedy, Portland, Ore.
Creative Directors: Tyler Whisnand, Eric Baldwin, Don Shelford
Copywriter: Erin Swanson
Art Directors: Jimm Lasser, Monica Nelson
Producers: Sarah Shapiro, Kirsten Acheson
Account Team: Andrew Schafer, Jessie Young
Executive Creative Directors: Mark Fitzloff, Susan Hoffman
Agency Executive Producer: Ben Grylewicz
Business Affairs: Cindy Lewellen
Strategic Planner: Andy Lindblade

Production Company: Park Pictures
Director: Lance Acord
Executive Producers: Jackie Kelman Bisbee, Mary Ann Marino
Line Producer: Caroline Kousidinis
Director of Photography: Lance Acord

Editorial Company: Joint
Editor: Tommy Harden
Post Producer: Lisa Ashe
Post Executive Producer: Patty Brebner
Assistant Editor: Eric Hill

Company: A52
Executive Producer: Jennifer Sofio Hall
Producer: Matt Olmon
Artists: Andy Raphael Barrios, Scott Johnson, Bruno Parenti, Christel Hazard, Matt Sousa, Dan Ellis

Sound Designer: Tommy Harden
Voiceover Artist: Renee Faia

Company: Eleven Sound
Mixer: Jeff Payne
Producer: Caroline O’Sullivan

Media Agency: OMD Global
Global Group Account Director: Marcus Strijdveen
Group Director of Strategy: Carrie Davis
Supervisor: Jacqueline Thames
Group Director of Strategy: Carrie Davis
Supervisor: Jacqueline Thames
Digital Director: Matthew Ross
Senior Digital Strategist: Donica Shye

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