Levis Legacy: Can advertising ever be authentic?

I came across the new ad campaign for Levis jeans that tells the youth of today to “go forth.”

From their site:

THESE ARE NOT EASY TIMES. BUT THEY ARE OUR TIMES. And together, there is nothing we can’t do—or undo. It’s this pioneering spirit that makes positive change possible. It’s why we support pioneers and invite you to join us in helping them create a better world.

The brand then asks you to pledge your support for the non-profit Water.org. And oh yeah… buy their jeans.

The ad, on its own, is quite beautiful. Yet the Levis logo at the end leaves a bitter taste in the mouth. As if you’ve just been duped. Why? Advertising has long been criticized for its lack of “truth.” And yet, when it tries to attach itself to truth (or authenticity) by proxy, we hate it even more.

In light of the London riots, Youtube commentor diejakedie writes:

Fuck you Levi’s, your first on my looting list.

The London backlash (and more that will come) is retribution for a lifetime of being told you’re not good enough. Laurie Penny, huddled in her London apartment, writes:

People riot because it makes them feel powerful, even if only for a night. People riot because they have spent their whole lives being told that they are good for nothing, and they realise that together they can do anything – literally, anything at all.

Brands are missing something important here. This rage that has arisen is in direct opposition to what you continually attempt: to co-opt that which is still free.

Our growing crises will not be solved by buying jeans. Not while we exist in an economic system that is inherently exploitative and unsustainable. We need a shift from ‘scarity economics’ to sacred economics.

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3 Comments Levis Legacy: Can advertising ever be authentic?

  1. Ivy J.

    I’m not sure I’m seeing this in context as much as you are, but I did like the ad, and as what it is, too. I don’t think companies that advertise freedom, independence or strength claim to offer these things with their products; maybe they just want to say that this is the lifestyle they stand for.

  2. Ian MacKenzie

    But that’s my point. They don’t stand for those things – because at the end of the day, it’s just jeans. The only way a product generates meaning is by attaching itself to something that is “real.” This was a core message of the film “American Beauty” encapsulated with Lester Burman (Kevin Spacey) when he says “It’s just a couch.”

  3. ianmack

    But that’s my point. They don’t stand for those things – because at the end of the day, it’s just jeans. The only way a product generates meaning is by attaching itself to something that is “real.” This was a core message of the film “American Beauty” encapsulated with Lester Burman (Kevin Spacey) when he says “It’s just a couch.”

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