Monday, November 17, 2008

What happens in Levi's stays in Levi's

Levi's is running with the slogan "Live unbuttoned." This apparently translates to "Live unencumbered by laws or prudence."

Don't get me wrong, people. I like sex as much as the next person. I'm pretty sure I don't like it in this configuration, however. I'm also not sure how this sells jeans. Or anything besides morning-after pills.

Zane: "My name's not really Zane."
Lucia: "My name's not really Lucia."

Pff. Big deal. I've seen worse in Vegas ads. Well, no I haven't, because I've yet to see a Vegas ad that features actual undressing (this ad can't air before 10 pm anywhere, can it?). Still, anonymity, that's, um, spicy? Continue.

Not-Zane: "I'm not really in a band."
Not-Lucia: "I don't really work for a label."

Not-Zane seems a little disappointed that he's not the only one who's spent the entire night bullshitting. I'd say there was a commentary on the nature of gender relations here, but give me a fucking break. Levi's is about to sell you jeans by showing you people's underwear.

Zain't: "I live in Detroit, not LA."
Whocia: "Well, I've never been to Manhattan."

Ooh, fucking one-upped again, dude! Zain't is not going to be able to take much more of this.

Zain't: "Truth is, I've been sleeping in my car."

Homeless people: fucking sexy.

Whocia: "That's okay. This isn't my apartment."

And this is where I go from being just mildly skeeved to realllly having issues with whatever Levi's thinks they're doing here. Zain't briefly turns on the light to reveal that a black family lives there (they had to be black so it was easy to tell from pictures, of course), then turns it back off so the commercial, for jeans, I should stress, can end with dirty, dirty fucking on the floor of a stranger's apartment. And just for good measure, here's your slogan: "Live unbuttoned."

Now that is living. Anonymous, likely unprotected sex with someone you'll never see again ("Live unbagged") with a B&E thrown in for good measure? I'll obey the law when I'm dead, dude! And on the bright side, if he catches a gross enough STI, the other inmates might actually leave him alone. For the first week.

I was kidding before, but this might as well be an ad for RU-486. It certainly sells that a hell of a lot better than it sells jeans - I mean, who is paying any attention to the jeans? 99% of this ad's viewership is either being outraged or masturbating, and the last 1% is actually doing both. The plot has nothing to do with jeans (unless you count taking them off, which I do not) and the end of the ad goes so far as to imply that Levi's are at their best lying on the floor while you have sex five feet away. Which I guess would be fine if the slogan were befitting the ad, like "Levi's: Put 'em on to take 'em off" or some shit. Instead, we get the faux-profound "Live unbuttoned," which doesn't just rationalize the ridiculous behavior on display, it actively endorses it. If people want to break into apartments to have anonymous sex, I guess that's their business (aside from the property crime part), and it's not like adults can't parse this ad. But there's always a risk that kids might be watching, I don't care what timeslots were bought. Isn't it just a bit much to make this seem like "the cool thing to do?" Especially considering that kids and teenagers are the most impressionable viewers of ads. Your dad isn't watching this and thinking "I gotta get me a pair of those jeans."

It's a bad ad because it doesn't sell its product well enough, but more importantly I just don't see why they went the direction they did. There was certainly no need to do so. Even the sex on its own would have been one thing - it probably still would have bugged me, but to go the extra mile and throw in petty crime (if not worse) for no necessary reason and then celebrate it? Come on, Levi's. I'd say "You're better than this," but historically I'm not sure you have been much better than this, so instead I'll just say "You really ought to consider being better than this."


Quivering P. Landmass said...

I will quote from Don Draper on "Mad Men," after his copywriter Peggy insists that "sex sells":

"Says who? Just so you know, the people who talk that way think that monkeys can do this. They take all this monkey crap and stick it in a briefcase, completely unaware that their success depends on something more than shoeshine. You are the product. You feeling something. That's what sells. Not them. Not sex. They can't do what we do and they hate us for it."

Levi's - you are a bunch of monkeys with shiny shoes.

Patrick said...

I'm really glad you guys talked about this ad. It's pretty reprehensible, huh? Actually, I thought the one with the two kids cliff diving, only it's a metaphor for losing your virginity was a bit worse, but this one more explicitly made its point: wear our jeans and it's allllll good.