150 Years of Levi's 501s Ad Speaks to the Power of Branding

150 Years of Levi's 501s Ad Speaks to the Power of Branding

News by Anja Paspalj
Published: February 07, 2023

Levi’s collaborated with creative agency Droga5 New York to create a global marketing campaign titled “The Greatest Story Ever Worn” that includes social media, OOH print and short films.

It has been 150 years since the iconic Levi’s 501 jeans hit the market and became one of the most legendary examples of branding.

To commemorate this milestone, the clothing company launched a series of three shorts about well-known Levi’s legends passed on through time and supposedly based on true stories that speak to the power of branding and customer loyalty.

“Every story we tell is premised on a true experience of a Levi’s 501 wearer,” explains Droga5’s group creative director George McQueen.

The hero film “Fair Exchange” was directed by Martin de Thurah and follows the story of a young farmer in 1982 who trades the family cow for a neighbor’s pair of Levi’s 501 jeans after spotting an ad for them in a magazine. As he confidently struts through his village donning his 501s, the spot’s slogan appears on the screen: “One fair exchange in the greatest story ever worn.”

The two remaining spots follow similar storylines that rove customers’ love for Levi’s brand. The first “Legends Never Die” is also directed by de Thurah and portrays the funeral of a man that asked to be buried in his beloved 501s. This has been requested before, it is claimed in the video. However, only one man also requested that all attendees wear a pair of 501s too.

The final spot is directed by Melina Matsoukas, the director behind Beyoncé’s visual album “Lemonade.” Titled “Previous Cargo”, the short documents the cultural wave Levi’s created in Jamaica when the 501 model first became available in 1970.

“The stories may have different tones, different tenors and different heroes at the center of them, from everyday farming people to unliving legends. But at the heart, all are simple, single-minded stories about a long-standing love affair with one of the most iconic pieces of clothing ever made – the 501 jean,” adds McQueen.

The “Greatest Story Ever Worn” campaign went live during the Grammys and is a testament to the decades-long effect of successful advertising.

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