Unbuttoning the Levi’s Brand

Levi’s has a significant problem: like many other iconic brands — it’s pretty much generically synonymous with the idea of “jeans” — there’s nowhere near the consumer behavior (i.e. purchases) to match consumer awareness.

So it has launched a viral e-card campaign, called “Unbutton the Beast,” that features weird phallic characters spouting ersatz innuendo as they pop out of unzipped pants. Consumers can pick one of four characters — a fish, lobster claw, rapper sock puppet, or some spindly dinosaur-looking thing — and even customize it with their own voice before sending emails on to whomever deserves such, er, hilarity.

Such brazenly inappropriate campaigns serve a purpose, as Calvin Klein educated us with a baby Brooke Shields and her own jeans many moons ago. Brand experts will look to the coverage and conversation so prompted (like this post, for instance) as proof positive that such gestures make brand names “relevant” and “top of mind.”

In a tough economy, this buzz should have some implications for moving jeans of off store shelves, or so the thinking goes. And the creative content jibes with the product…”unbutton” the button-down 501 jeans. Get it?

A counter argument isn’t hard to make, however. The campaign is inane, not relevant whatsoever, does little to connect to a sales purpose and, thus, is utterly pointless.

Maybe pointlessness is the point? What’s your vote? Bright light, or dim bulb?