Last week Levi’s yanked its new global film from UK screens, at least for now.
It feared that a scene showing a lone individual confronting riot police might not play too well over here, now that the concept of resisting riot police has lost its air of romanticism.
Which was probably a wise decision.
At some point, when emotions are less raw, they will likely bring it back or run it out with that controversial vignette neatly removed.
But I hope the riots, and what they revealed, will provoke for Levi’s and others pursuing similar brand strategies a longer and deeper period of pause and reflection before returning to business as usual.
The expressed aim of Levi’s new platform is to ‘inspire people to unite to create a better world and to believe change is possible’.
Which, right now, feels like a very timely message.
Where it goes wrong is in associating the pursuit of this cause with the simultaneous wearing of Levi’s kit.
Because we all well know – including, I’m sure, the smart folk at Levi’s – that the opposite is the case.
In the quest for a better world for everyone, or even just a more authentic and fulfilling life for oneself, what we wear is a matter of no consequence.
In fact, concerning oneself about it has, it’s now clear, risen to become one of the biggest barriers blocking its possibility.
There can be no real optimism for a better future moving forward until we once again collectively agree, and are seen to agree, that the matter of whether you’re wearing Diesel, Levi’s or store’s own brand has no bearing whatsoever on your human worth.
There was a time when Levi’s were rightly admired as a symbol of freedom.
But thirty years on we no longer need freedom through our brand of jeans.
We need freedom from our brand of jeans.
So if Levi’s really wants to present itself once again as a pioneer, as a true original, then why doesn’t it now bring down the curtain on the old brand era and start the new one?
Ditch this campaign and create another one.
In it, again encourage the youth of the world’s desire for a better world.
But this time, tell them that as they pursue it they can wear whatever damn label, or lack of one, they like.
And show people in the ad doing just that.
It would capture the new spirit.
And, I bet, also sell a load more Levi’s jeans in the process.