Levi’s ditches 501 ads as denim market fails

Levi Strauss is abandoning its advertising support for the 501 brand after 13 years and instead launching a TV and cinema branding campaign which does not feature any jeans.

The change in strategy comes as the UK jeans market faces a slump. According to ACNielsen-MEAL, UK sales of Levi’s fell 7.8 per cent over the year to April and sales of all jeans in the UK have declined by 14.3 per cent (MW July 16).

Levi’s first ad in the 501 campaign in 1985 through Bartle Bogle Hegarty featured Nick Kamen stripping in a launderette, and was a huge hit.

The campaign has been feted ever since but Levi’s is looking to promote other clothing ranges in the face of the declining denim market.

Print and poster executions feature various Levi’s products including its buttonfly cords and its “sta-prest” pants. Sales of non-denim trousers have risen on the back of the declining market for jeans.

Levi’s UK marketing director Amanda Le Roux says: “The time is right to put investment behind this product (sta-prest pants). We are not moving away from the 501, we are broadening the message.” She adds that the range of non-denim Levi’s products is being expanded.

The campaign breaks on August 13. TV ads will appear on weekends only, when Le Roux says Levi’s target market watches the most television.

Print work will be placed throughout the year.

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