Levi's Invites Consumers To 'Unbutton' Artists

Levi's 501 digital campaignLevi's puts the focus on the 501 brand in its latest "Live Unbuttoned" digital campaign. The ads and microsites, featuring up-and-coming artists, offer a glimpse of the real person behind the celebrity, speaking to the hidden creativity in everyone.

EVB San Francisco built the campaign on the idea that everyone has an artistic side--they just need to "unbutton" it. The video and still ads directed by Pier Nicola D'Amico began rolling out last week featuring emerging artists including the British hip-hop singer Estelle, along with Nikka Costa and Wale. The concept, developed with support from music agency Cornerstone, gives consumers a glimpse into the style of several profiled artists.

Each artist has his or her own microsite where visitors can watch the video, then remove the pant buttons placed strategically on artists and exchange them for digital content. Removing the iconic 501 button signifies an openness and willingness for the artist to share their creative spirit and self-expression with the world. "It's like we're unbuttoning their passion, rather than jeans," says Lauren Harwell, EVB San Francisco associate creative director. "It's not about 'hey, take your pants off,' but rather be a part of the spirit and put the creativity out there for everyone to enjoy."



Exclusive tracks by Estelle, Nikka and Wale from their respective forthcoming albums were produced for the "Live Unbuttoned" digital campaign.

With many emerging artists, Harwell says gaining consensus on the lineup has been the most challenging. The tracks from Estelle, Nikka and Wale are available for free download at, and, respectively.

Doug Sweeny, director of Levi's brand marketing, believes the campaign oozes personal expression, freedom, and revelation. It gets people to open up and be true to themselves. The entire campaign-- which includes print, television, billboards and viral ads--will likely run for a couple of years. "It's not a short flash in the pan," he says. "The digital part we see running through March. The story line will continually evolve. We're still talking with artists to see who we want to profile."

Levi's also plans to add profiles of other emerging artists and well-known media. The campaign will profile celebrity blogger Perez Hilton at in early September, for example. Hilton created a mini film and playlist that includes his favorite club tracks for emerging artists. Robert Buckley from "Lipstick Jungle" also has a reserved spot in Levi's online campaign.

To accompany the microsites, print ads are scheduled to appear in "Rolling Stone," "The Fader," "Giant," "Dime," "Vibe" and ESPN. Online ads produced by Avenue A/Razorfish should launch this week. Outdoor billboards are running in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York.

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