The Levi´s TV-commercials throughout the years

Though the name of Levi Strauß is known by nearly everyone, it was necessary to do a lot of advertising and the commercials used for this have also reached a cult status. As it is nearly impossible to give a summary of every single of all 23 Levi´s commercials that have been broadcast since 1986, I´m going to confine on the title and the record used in the respective commercial and I will give a short summary of those that are supposed to be the best known. In 1986, the first year that Levi´s commercials are broadcasted, the commercial called "Bath" with the record "Wonderful World" by Sam Cooke appears on TV and in the cinemas. In it the story of a man is described who wants his Levi´s to fit best and takes a "Bath" with them.

This spot is later parodied by Otto Waalkes in his first film. The second spot of this year was "Laundrette" with the music of Marvin Gaye ("Heard it through the Grapevine"). Who doesn´t remember the man that enters a launderette, takes off his Levi´s and waits for them being washed, sitting there in his underwear. In 1987 "Entrance" ("Stand by me", Ben E. King) and "Parting" ("When a man loves am woman", Percy Sledge) are produced and broadcasted. In the following year "Cochran" ("C´mon everybody", Eddie Cochran) and "Refrigerator" ("Mannish Body", Muddy Waters) help Levi Strauß & Co. to make more money. The latter spot caused some uproar as it pretends that cooled Jeans are supposed to give more "sexual power" to a man (what has later been verified by some doctors). In Great Britain it even was forbidden to broadcast this spot before the evening - because of the children.

In 1989 only one spot has been released: "Pawnbroker" with the song "Ain´t nobody home" by B.B. King. The next two spots made millions of people buy Levi´s Jeans in 1990. "Beach" featuring "Can´t get enough of your love" ( Bad Company) and the spot that showed us all how to ride your motorbike through a crowded office just to pick up your girlfriend: "Great Deal" with the song "The Joker" by The Steve Miller Band. The next year again two spots were responsible for the further success of the most beloved garment, "Pool Hall" with The Clash´s "Should I stay or should I go" (this spot was later parodied by Phil Collins in his video clip of "I can´t dance") and "Camera" ("20th Century Boy", Marc Boland & T. Rex). During the next years, more Levi´s spots than ever are produced, that is to say eight, of which every single was as brilliant as the ones before.

Then in the year that marks the middle of the nineties, four new spots are released. "Taxi" ("Tune in, Turn on, Cop out", Freak Power) is about a taxi driver that is interested in a girl that turns out to be a man. The second spot of 1995 is called "Drugstore" ("Novelty Waves", Biosphere) and shows the story of man buying condoms and getting to know that the owner of the drugstore is the father of the girl he wants to "meet". In this spot one part of the Levi´s 501 is especially highlighted as for bearing the condoms: the watch pocket in the right front pocket. It is commented with the sentence "The watch pocket - abused ever since!".

The third spot of that year is called "Clayman" with Shaggy´s "Boombastic". It was the first and only spot containing no "real" people. Now something about the story: a beautyful girl stands screaming on a burning skyscraper and nobody dares to rescue her, except one man wearing a Levi´s. He gets himself a motorbike, rides up the fire-ladder and rescues the girl by using his Levi´s to slide down a steel wire.

The fourth and last one of this year was "Planet" with the record "Spaceman" by Babylon Zoo, which showed that not only on earth Levi´s is one of the most famous brands concerning Jeans.

Though every single of these spots has its unique story, they all have some things in common. There is to say that every spot has the same kind of music what is to say something like rock´n´roll or hard rock (except "Drugstore" as it combines the old times with modern ambient music).Also nearly all the commercials are stories that represent the hard working man that wears the famous and fashionable Levi´s Jeans.

The spots of the nineties show that Jeans are becoming a symbol of beauty and sexual attraction and not being anymore only a piece of cloth that protects you while you are working. You are not only supposed to wear it, but to take it off sometimes. They let you have fun or can be useful even if you don´t wear them.

Artists were also influenced by the stories used for advertising, for example Otto Waalkes did not only parody the "Bath" spot, but also the "Great Deal" spot was used in one of his films. Phil Collins, the frontman of Genesis imitated the "Beach" spot in the video clip of "I can´t dance".

One further thing they have in common is that Jeans are supposed to be something that stands for America, they are a symbol for the American Way of Life. This advertising campaign had also an impact on the success of the old songs of the sixties: they returned into the charts, for example "The Joker" or "Stand by me".

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a scene from "Clayman"

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