You may have seen this great effort from Levi’s and Weiden & Kennedy (the same company behind the Old Spice “I’m on a Horse” ads). They all hunkered down in the city of Braddock, Pennsylvania just outside of Pittsburgh, and didn’t just shoot some TV ads. They invested real cash money into its community center, library, and an urban farm.
It’s a fantastically cool idea. Advertising, reality TV, cause marketing and economic investment, all in one. Awesome. It takes a lot of hustle to pull something like this off.
Levi’s got a lot of crap for doing this. “Why didn’t they put jobs into Braddock?” “Why help just one city?” “Levi’s are made in Mexico, not the U.S. for Pete’s sake!” Parts of the ad community hammered it, calling some of the lines trite (“We are all workers”) and the whole thing too precious. It stirred up debate. Good.
Listen, Braddock is hosed. This town is dying before its eyes. But Levi’s put $1 million into this dying city. The State of Pennsylvania didn’t. General Motors didn’t. The critics who called the advertising crappy didn’t do a damn thing for Braddock, except help raise Braddock’s search rankings. Levi’s got off it’s denim ass and tried to do some good, and should get some karma points for that at the very least and profit at best.
I’m a die hard Levi’s guy. It’s practically all I wear. And despite thinking that most of their advertising has stunk for the last 15 years (including the Spike Lee stuff – sorry Spike), I really hope this one works for Levi’s. They’re sales are up worldwide 8%, so it may be doing them some good. But (much) more importantly, here’s hoping it does some good for the people of Braddock.