Content case study: Levi’s

From Nick Kamen whipping off his strides to Brad Pitt lobbing his 35mm camera at a prison guard, Levi Strauss has made some indelible advertising over the years. Naturally, its content marketing efforts are equally potent and culture-shifting, no? Well, no…

If the marketing folk at Levi’s were ever told not to blog about themselves, they clearly didn’t listen. Granted, the blog’s title – Unzipped – is inspired. (‘Unbuttoned’ would have been too long, and, as for ‘Your Flies are Undone’…) Save for the name, then, and clean-looking design, the content falls somewhat flat.

Sections such as Design, Culture, Technology and Vintage sound promising and would offer Levi’s a chance to talk to its audiences about their interests and what influences them. They largely fail, although there is the odd flash of brilliance with articles like ‘5 Pivotal Rock Music Movements & the Denim That Dominated Them’. Mostly these sections are a mere ruse for Levi to talk about its own products: for instance, the Technology section currently features an article on ‘5 Ways Your Pants Can Solve Everyday Annoyances’, featuring… Levi’s-owned Dockers.

Other sections of the blog, namely Community, Sustainability and Social Progress, are virtual content non-starters and filled with the kind of CSR fluff usually reserved  for annual reports. Example? Here’s two: ‘Levi’s Sponsors Athlete Allys Inaugural Action Awards’ and ‘How Your Jeans Can Help Reduce Your Local Landfill’s Waste Size’.

The overall effect is a mash of articles – some hint at the company’s unique place in culture, but most do not.

What should Levi’s do instead?

Design a new content strategy. This means asking who visits Unzipped and, more importantly, why – all the while, respecting the integrity of the brand. If Levi’s has an idea of its audience, and what it wants to achieve from the site, this picture should guide content.

Three suggestions:

1. Talk sparingly about Levi’s, or Levi’s-owned spin-offs. Mention the brand in those fun listicles, but not more than once. It’s also OK to talk about other makers of denim.

2. Use reportage. If CSR is so important to the company, do it properly. Hire a writer to create a feature and use a documentary photographer, focusing on the impact of a cause on people’s lives.  Better still, create similar video content that resonates.

3. Go loco. Rather than talking to all of North America, create some local elements, whether it’s city guides, links to local photography exhibitions or local beauty spots to check out. Local content can be really useful.

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