Advertising – Levi’s

In the Levis campaign that was started in 1984 and lasted till 1990, the main objective for Levis was to increase the sales of their jeans. The agency that created the campaign was Bartle, Bogle and Hegerty. The way that they managed to increase sales was by keeping the same ‘theme’ in all the advertisements, which was to associate young, middle-class males with the product. The re-occurring images of these characters in the adverts encouraged white men to buy Levis jeans.
During this time Levis had realised that in the 1980’s, which was when the advertisements were shown, white, middle-class men were mainly the people with more money. In this essay the two adverts that I will be comparing are, ‘Laundrette’ and ‘Refrigerator’. In the advert ‘Laundrette’ the main character is a young, attractive white male. He goes into the laundrette with all his clothes on, but instead of the man bringing clothes into the laundrette he decides to take his clothes off then put them in the washing machine.
With his clothes the man also puts in stones to emphasise the fact that Levis now come stonewashed. The other characters in the advert are two young girls who are sitting in the laundrette, two young boys and an older woman. The music played is ‘Heard it through the Grapevine’ by Marvin Gaye. In second advert that I will be talking about, ‘Refrigerator’ it is set on a very hot day in a diner and this time again there is a young, white male as the main character. There is an old man who first walks into the diner and a young woman who is already there.

The young male then walks down from the stairs with no trousers on and walks up to the fridge. He takes his jeans out of the fridge, puts them on and rides off on his motorcycle. In this advert the song played was ‘I’m a Rolling Stone’ by …. ? In the Levis campaign the characters shown play a big role in trying to sell Levis jeans. The way the characters are preceived and what kind of image they give off influence the viewer in many ways. The main character in ‘Laundrette’ is a young, white, attractive male. In the advert he is shown to be admired by many people in different ways.
Similarly in ‘Refrigerator’ there is also an attractive, white male and he is also being admired by the woman in the advert. This instantly shows us what message Levis is trying to get across the audience, they are trying to say that ‘if you wear our jeans you will be liked and admired’. This idea is shown in both ‘Laundrette’ and ‘Refrigerator’. When in ‘Laundrette’ the man walks up to the washing machine two young boys are staring him at, this does not mean necessarily that the boys are attracted to the man but they respect him and admire his image.
This also shows us that Levis are trying to say that everyone will admire you if you wear these jeans, whether male or female. Furthermore throughout the advert there are two teenage girls sitting behind the man and they are obviously attracted to the man but try to hide their feelings. In the same way the advert ‘Refrigerator’ also tries to send out the same message of admiration and attraction. When the man in this advert came down from the stairs there is a close-up on the young woman’s face and the expression on her face shows us that she is clearly captivated by the man.
In both adverts the effect of having young attractive men in the advert is that it influences the viewer to buy the jeans. For young people, who are the target audience of this campaign, if they see somebody good-looking wearing the jeans that would persuade them to buy a pair of jeans for themselves and try to emulate the character shown in the advertisement. Also the characters in both of the Levis adverts are always shown being admired by all the other characters in the advert. For example when the two girls were looking at the man.
This encourages the viewer further to go out and buy the jeans because they feel that if they do they can be like the man in the advert and stand out, be admired and be confident. Levis had chose to set their advertisements in the 1950’s. This was a time in a America when young people were recognised as teenagers – not just as either children or adults. Teenagers suddenly became more fashion conscious and had a new range of fashions marketed at them. Youths had more money, spending power and freedom. Many teenagers at this time were seen as rebellious; Levis took this idea and had drawn repeatedly on the idea of ‘rebels’.
An example of this idea in a Levis advert is in ‘Laundrette’. When the main character in ‘Laundrette’ walks up to the washing machine he then decides to undress, this is a very unconventional attitude and re-in forces the idea of rebellion which Levis is trying to get across to their viewers. Also when the man is there and the two boys are looking at him their mother pulls them away because she doesn’t want them to look at him. To some people this is very appealing because they want to be seen as doing the ‘wrong’ thing because it will make them look ‘cool’ and make them stand out.
This is therefore a positive reason for using the rebellious theme in Levis adverts, and will encourage the new generation of adolescences to buy the jeans. In addition there is also references made to rebels in ‘Refrigerator’. The main character in ‘Refrigerator’ keeps the rebellious theme and is also seen as very unconventional like the other character in ‘Laundrette’. When the man comes down from the stairs and he is ‘confronted’ with the old man and young woman he is wearing no trousers and he then goes into the fridge and takes his Levis jeans out, this is a very unusual attitude and again appeals to the young audience.
This is because it is saying to the audience that the man has his own individual style and character. The Levis man doesn’t need to follow or mimic any other people because he sets his own trends and is followed by others. Once again the man wearing Levis is shown to be admired by others. The effect of having older people in the advertisements is that it shows clear contrast in looks and also the difference of thinking between both generations. Furthermore it re-in forces the idea of rebellion because the older people disapprove of the rebellious nature of the youngsters.
In these adverts they both contain many cultural references to America. This would have been done, possibly, because America has connotations of success, wealth and independence so Levis wanted to make an association between their product and America to show the likeness of both. Firstly, in the Levis advert, ‘Laundrette’, the setting is the title’s namesake. As soon as you see the first image the background is covered in red white and blue – the colours of the American flag. In both, ‘Laundrette’ and ‘Refrigerator’, Levis had used the same techniques, which were followed throughout all the adverts in the campaign.
The association with America in the Levis adverts were very subtle and always in the background, this made the viewer subconsciously take note of the link between Levis and America. An example of this association between both America and Levis is shown in ‘Refrigerator’. In the advert ‘Refrigerator’ the setting is in a typical American style diner, which is the first thing you see in the advert. We then see an old man walk into the diner singing. The camera then jumps to the inside of the diner showing us a woman and the old man.
Further more near to the end of the advert the young man that appears earlier gets on a Harley Davidson – a typical American bike and rides off into the sunset on a ‘never ending’ road. Similarly in ‘Laundrette’ there are also references made to America. When we first see the setting – a laundrette, we instantly notice the colours on the wall. Unlike ‘Refrigerator’ the colours used in ‘Laundrette’ are more striking and noticeable. The effect of having references to America in the advert is that firstly it shows that Levis is American. They are being very patriotic and trying to say that ‘we are proud of America and our jeans’.
Furthermore Levis are again trying to get across to their viewers ‘America is successful, wealthy and independent…. so are we’. This idea influences people to buy Levis because they themselves recognise that America is a successful country so anything that is produced in America must be successful too, such as Levis. Furthermore the use of powerful vehicles in the adverts and also the long ‘never ending’ road emphasises the idea of the American Dream and independence which gives the viewer a sense of freedom, that they can do whatever they want, wear whatever they want, almost promoting the idea of ‘rebels’.
The language used in the Levis adverts effect the whole advert and how people view them. The length of the captions and lyrics and the way they re-in force the visual image in the advert is very important in making the advertisements successful. The caption used in ‘Laundrette’ is, ‘Original shrink to fit jeans, now available in stonewash’. The effect of having such a caption after the advert is that it re-in forces the visual image shown in the advert. In the advert the man puts stones in the washing machine to try and get stonewashed jeans.
The irony is that he doesn’t know that Levis jeans are now available stonewashed. Further more the effect of having the word ‘Original’ in the caption is that it suggests that the jeans are unique and also it might suggest quality. In addition the music played also links with the ‘theme’ of the advert. The lyrics in the song are, ‘Heard it through the Grapevine’, which basically means that he heard it ‘around’, or from rumours that stonewashed jeans are in fashion. In comparison, the advert, ‘Refrigerator’ has a caption saying, ‘Original Jeans’.
The word ‘Original’ has the same impact as in the other caption of ‘Laundrette’. It suggests to the viewer a sense of uniqueness about the jeans and also reputation. A high status reputation and also Levis might be trying to say that our jeans have been around longer than anyone else’s and therefore we must have quality and class for our jeans to be around for so long. Furthermore Levis might be trying to re-in force the visual image because in the advert the mans behaviour is very unusual and somewhat original.

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