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W+K Levi's "Go Forth" Campaign Case Study


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Mini case study on the W+K "Go Forth" campaign for Levi's. Discusses campaign values, tactics, implementation and results.

All campaign concepts created by Wieden+Kennedy for Levi's.

Some of the most effective campaigns weren't created around catchy slogans. Instead, campaigns that center around an event or an ARG (Alternate Reality Game) have been found to be largely successful. The Levi's "Go Forth" campaign does both: the event and ARG is a $100,000 treasure hunt. Levi's also does a fantastic job of New Media Creation. Typically, brands talk about themselves, what they stand for, etc. Levi's, however, has done something almost no brand has done before -- it created news.

Here are some of the brand values that most likely went into the discovery of the campaign. "Go Forth," the campaign tagline, focuses on the pioneering spirit of America, youth revolution independence with a backdrop of the American Frontier. Simply YouTube "Levi's, Go Forth" and you can see some of their other commercials that echo this sentiment.

The first step of the ARG was a video (YouTube link: that viewers saw on Levi's website (print ads and other viral tactics helped push users to the Levi's site). In it, the story of Grayson Ozias' $100,000 treasure is revealed. Levi's sets the stage for a treasure hunt challenge.

The second step is enlisting viewers to take part in the challenge. Viewers who signed up online were given location clues in which they had to identify the location.

If a user gets this far in the game, they reach the "Real World Event" stage in which Levi's sends participants to find actual clues in places across the U.S. This is the best part of an ARG -- it relates back to something in real life. After a participant finds that clue, they have to document it and send it to Levi's.

After more series of challenges and clues, final contestants are given a final clue. Who ever cracked that final clue first would receive $100,000. Later on, they were also given an option to have Levi's donate another set amount of money to a charity.

Levi's continued with their "Go Forth" campaign by highlighting the plight of real workers in Braddock, PA, a steel town that's still trying to recover from the loss of steel mills.

These real mini documentaries is what very few brands have done -- Levi's, as a brand, has created news about others. This deviates from the standard medium of brands trying to make news about themselves.

Pros: the "Go Forth" campaign truly taps into the root of the Levi's brand and what it stands for. The integrated campaign was wildly successful and garnered a large amount of press that also highlighted Levi's philanthropic efforts.

Results: +9% revenue over 2009 ($1.04 billion)

Cons: Ad Age dubbed this campaign as "too cleverly manufactured" and that it was too pretentious for people to take this seriously. Critics have also argued that Levi's "American spirit" is largely manufactured, as there is a lack of Levi's U.S. factories. Other critics say there's a confusion of taglines.

Opportunities: Some critics say the content marketing could have been a little less "advertisey."

References and links.

I personally believe this is a fantastic campaign created by Wieden+Kennedy. Although the concept was perhaps a bit too romantic and "pretentious" as some critics called it, the campaign truly does represent what the Levi's brand stands for. As for the campaign itself, people are still talking and referring back to Levi's "Go Forth." This "stickiness factor" says it all.

Published in: Design
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W+K Levi's "Go Forth" Campaign Case Study

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