Walt Whitman’s voice crackles over lusciously shot images of America’s plains, pastures and cities as Levi’s campaign, Go Forth, introduces us to the New Americans.
The campaign crosses TV, print and the internet as it seeks to capture the pioneer spirit in time for July 4. The two TV ads are set to Whitman’s rousing verses America and O Pioneer.
The approach is taking Levi’s away from its sexy image back to something more authentic. Most jeans brands, like Diesel and Wranglers, have been buying into the ‘sex sells’ line, so it was time for Levi’s to do something different and rediscover its roots.
“Our new Go Forth campaign is about reconnecting with our authentic voice – our vision for the company and for the pioneer spirit of America. It’s culturally and emotionally powerful brand idea that is true to Levi’s pioneering spirit and at the same time very relevant to today’s world,” says Doug Sweeny, VP of Levi’s brand marketing.
“The campaign takes the raw, tough and eternally optimistic spirit that made the Levi’s brand great and brings it to life as a clarion call for this generation,” he says.
The nub of the campaign hinges on the pioneer spirit and a sense of possibility. And the poetry of Walt Whitman fitted perfectly with the New World optimism they hoped to invoke, says creative director Tyler Whisnand from advertising agency Wieden + Kennedy.
“Whitman wrote Leaves of Grass during the Civil War and reconstruction, when the American experiment was at its most vulnerable moment,” says Whisnand. “Whitman took it upon himself to be a voice of hope and inspiration. He called out for Americans to look forward and continue to build and work for better times. Levi’s started making jeans around the same time, equipping those hard working Americans working the mines in California. The brand has always stood for what is possible in the New World literally and figuratively.”
The campaign’s launch coincides with Independence Day. In the spirit of 4th of July, W+K has created an online campaign inspired by the Declaration of Independence. The new declaration also launches Levi’s online project The New Americans. It’s inspired by Robert Frank’s seminal photography project The Americans. The public are invited to submit photos, writing and films about their idea of America – and artists will be commissioned to create projects about America today.