Levi's: The Medium is the Message

Richard Avedon's portraiture usually stands alone, of course, even in ads, but in the new Levi's "Style for Every Story" print campaign, from BBH/New York, his shots are competing for attention with butt imprints. Yes, actual imprints of th

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Richard Avedon's portraiture usually stands alone, of course, even in ads, but in the new Levi's "Style for Every Story" print campaign, from BBH/New York, his shots are competing for attention with butt imprints. Yes, actual imprints of the posteriors of "real" people. This may be a touch reminiscent of the recent Adidas global campaign, in which rugby players became human paintbrushes, applying themselves all over canvas, but here we have derrieres only and the medium, cleverly, is the message: a waitress' imprint is made with coffee, for instance, while a jewelry designers' is made with gold leaf. We're so glad they didn't feature a proctologist. Anyway, BBH's Thomas Hayo explains that, since the campaign must bring out the wide range of Levi's styles, each ad focuses on a "different individual and his or her favorite pair of Levi's. The style of Levi's you wear, how you wear them and how you distress them is a very personal thing," avers Hayo. "More than any other piece of clothing, your Levi's become part of who you are. The imprints therefore function as the jeans equivalent of a fingerprint." And Avedon apparently had no problem playing what might be viewed as the supporting role to a pair of authentic buttocks. "The concept was always based on the combination of jeans imprints and strong portrait photography," says Hayo. "We felt that putting those elements together created something very intriguing, visually as well as conceptually. Richard was always on board with this and he was very excited to combine his photography with a strong graphic device. While shooting, we always considered the specific imprint that would go with the shot, since the key was to make sure that the two elements worked together in perfect balance. The imprints were achieved by simply layering the materials on the actual jeans, and then having the person in them sit on a canvas. You can imagine it was quite a messy, yet very fun affair."
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About

Credits
Date
Apr 22, 2004
Client:
Levi's
Group Creative Director:
Thomas Hayo
Art Director:
Phil Bicker
Art Buyer:
Josette Lata
Photographer:
Richard Avedon
Art Buyer:
Travis Quinn
Agency:
BBH New York
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