For Lee, the company is going back to its once and future icon, Buddy Lee, for the new campaign. Buddy Lee was a promotional doll given out by Lee in the 1930s and who had been part of the campaign for decades. The doll was resurrected a few years ago when Lee Dungarees was launched to the young men.
"We knew we wanted the campaign to be cool and useful and play off Lee's heritage," said Liz Cahill, director of advertising and public relations at Lee. Buddy and his "unstoppable spirit" has been part of the campaign since 1998 and, along with his own "buddy" who appears in the spots this time around, is headlining the "Men of Action" campaign for Lee.
The spots are very stylized and over the top, a genre akin to Miami Vice and Fastlane. "We want to be that cool," Cahill said. While the "Men of Action" and the indestructible nature of action heroes is key to the brand, creating the playful and tongue-in-cheek ads have been the easier part of the Lee Dungarees campaign. It's been harder to find a media mix that would snag the young men who Lee wants to buy the jeans.
"We have learned through campaigns that these men are really fickle when it comes to media consumption," Cahill said. It seems that they spend a lot of time hanging out with their friends and doing anything but watching TV or looking at print. "They rarely sit long enough to be a viable target for network television," Cahill said.
This year's campaign focuses primarily on cable television, primarily the MTV Networks and Comedy Central, channels with a focus on humor. "Comedy Central plays a very important role for us," Cahill said. Specific placements haven't been completed yet.
Taking a lesser role in the campaign this time around is sports. Lee advertised heavily in sports when the marketing efforts began in 1998 but have now focused less on mainstream sporting events and more on the extreme sports like X Games and the Gravity Games. "It's where these guys live," Cahill said.
The Buddy Lee campaign begins in July and will run through November, which encompasses the back-to-school selling period. In the middle of that campaign will be another one, this time centering on the 22- to 28-year-old woman looking for the perfect pair of jeans. The One True Fit line of Lee came out of research that determined that women don't think there's one brand of jeans that meets their specifications in fit, styling, color, comfort and the "look" test. The jeans are designed to appeal to two demographics in the category, younger women who are leaving the junior area and going into the misses department because they want to dress a little more adult but still want a sexy style, said Cahill. And the older end of the demographic are women who are moving into several big events: Getting married, buying a home, having children.
As with Lee Dungarees, there's no print component to this campaign: It's all broadcast. "With One True Fit, what we found within the print world, while we love print ... to break through all the clutter, it's very difficult to do," Cahill said.
The One True Fit campaign will break with the Emmy Awards, which are held in early September. The campaign will run through November, both network and cable, although like the Lee Dungarees campaign, specific shows have not been bought. Cahill said that with all the first going on in their lives, relationship-style shows are the priority for this campaign. "We're listening to her and what she watches," Cahill said of the typical woman in the campaign.
The creative and media buying agency is Fallon.