If you're like me, you shoot the breeze with marketer friends (as well as friend friends and family) about brands, especially those that run ads that either float to the sky like poetry or crash like a gulp of overcooked pasta. I've decided to try to make these ideas available to those brands...sort of an open source medic service, teeing-up ideas from the crowd that are unqualified, probably impossible to do, and otherwise make perfect sense.
The idea is to add your riffs and reactions to posts like this one, and after some time has passed I'll package 'em together and send a note to the CEO of the brand that enjoyed our shared brilliance. I'm thinking that if enough dim bulbers get together we might qualify as a bright light on some intractable brand challenge.
Today's challenge is to help Levi's revive its faltering brand.
The brand has gone from one hoity-toity branding idea to the next, creating movies and interactive campaigns intended to dimensionalize and personalize the brand through UGC, charity and, well, you get the idea. Like Gap, it's been a Charlie Sheen of brands, throwing oodles of cash on self-defeating marketing in ways an addict might blow money on visits with more hookers and more drugs hoping for a different outcome.
Nothing has worked. Levi's just hired a new CMO (Rebecca Van Dyck) who'll start on April 19th. She has already promised to create "more of a consistent brand voice and more of a consistent brand experience around the world." Combined with the fact that Van Dyck previously worked at Wieden & Kennedy, which is the ad shop that has made a specialty out of producing broadly thematic and pointless marketing, her comments are not encouraging. W&K has been a direct contributor to Levi's decline over the past few years (the "Go Forth" campaign linking the brand with a down-and-out Pennsylvanian town named Braddock was its doing).
So enough with the kvetching. Levi's needs our help. Here are three ideas from yours truly. Please comment or add yours afterwards:
Idea #1: Trade-in For Authentic Jeans
Why not go out to the market with a campaign that tags every competitor for what it is: an also-ran knockoff of the original. Levi's invented jeans and could legitimately claim to be the only authentic offering. What if it developed the back-office to support a trade-in program...get out of your fake jeans and wear the real ones? I have no idea how the math might add up but I bet it could.
Idea #2: Levi's Jeans Resource
If the brand wants to create content so desperately, how about becoming the go-to resource for fit information on all jeans? Assert ownership of the category by providing consumers with the best and most complete data on every make/model. Again, who could argue with Levi's taking on this burden? Help people compare and contrast their options. I could guarantee that Levi's would sell more jeans in the process.
Idea #3: Proper Fit Training/Certification
My guess is that fit is still a bugaboo for jeans, especially for women. What if Levi's decided that it would become the training resource for jeans buyers and store sales people for any and every brand. Become the certification for qualified selling to mirror the authority it would have on the buying side.
Anyway, my ideas could stink. So might yours. But if we come up with enough of them, at least one might work for Levi's. Just think dimly. Brands don't matter. Feeling or thinking good thoughts isn't enough, and they've got enough of that already. Let's help them improve their marketing.
(Image credit: The Original)