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Levi Ad Analysis
Head cocked towards the ceiling, her eyes are closed and remain cast towards the grounds; as if looking down on everything before her. Standing in the middle of the frame, hands sunk deep in her form fitting, but baggy in all the right places, she looks to be pulling her sable colored hair out of her face—ready to take on the world. When looking at the ad that her picture is on, you are immediately drawn to the young woman’s jacket: metallic looking all the way unbuttoned with her color popped towards the sky, the white from when the light hit her jacket. Having been filtered in black and white, the simplicity of the color palette only enforces the overall feeling you can’t help but feel when looking at the photo. This girl is the epitome of cool. Rebellion. Empowerment. So much so, that it’s almost intimidating. To everyone who looks at it.
After staring at the girl and her jacket for a while, my eye wanders to the rest of the advertisement. The background appears to be some of wood grain wall, stripy in an abstract kind of way, with the small, white, curly writing in the corner reading “levi.com” looking like some kind of ray of light or star, lighting up the dark edge of the edging of one of the corners, and the fact that “Levi is a registered trademark company” vertical to the corner diagonal to the website name. The bottom corner held the Levi’s logo—the only thing in read providing a stark contrast towards the rest of the image, a registered trademark sign floating above the bold black print. According to the white writing surrounding the logo, they were advertising “the boyfriend collection” of clothing, with the slogan of “go forth”. In the light surrounding the girl in black, obviously handwritten script is the phrase “you sang. We gave you something to sing about. You wore Levi’s. We took them and made them ours.”
At first when I read that line I was a bit confused. Who’s the you? The we? Who’s saying and wrote that line anyway? The Levi Company? The girl in the photo? As a teenage girl looking at the photo I was tempted to think that the Levi’s may have been the “we” with the “you” directed at me—the target audience of the women’s clothing line. Although that makes no sense. Levi’s isn’t a person. Even if the company were, they would obviously be wearing their product of Levi clothing and wouldn’t need to make it their own. In class, I watched a documentary called The Corporation that could possibly help explain that kind of viewpoint about who the “you” and “we” s were in the writing. The film basically looked at companies as if they were the people they legally are using tests that therapists use to diagnose individuals with schizophrenia, etc., in order to deduce there sociopath-like nature. Based off of that you could say that maybe the model in the photo stole Levi’s clothes and made them her own? Maybe if a guy were looking at the ad, I thought, he’d come to a different conclusion about what the cursive, graffiti-looking writing behind the girl meant. After all, it did say it was advertising the companies new “boyfriend collection”. Maybe the clothes could actually be for boyfriends, or single guys who want to become the boyfriends of someone? I had to look up the definition of what “boyfriend” clothing was before I could come up with an answer that made a little bit more sense. Boyfriend clothing is clothing for women made to look like she stole her boyfriend’s pair of jeans, or in this case, his punk-rocker looking jacket as well. Instead of the girl stealing the Levi Company clothing, the writing could have actually been in her perspective. She sang, and her boyfriend became the new topic for the songs the woman sang about. Her boyfriend wore Levi’s, and she stole them and incorporated the clothes into her own, personal style. All in all the ad is very confusing to interoperate.
Reflecting more on that perplexity the ad caused, it dawned on me that that confusion probably worked a lot in Levi’s favor. Widened their targeted audience range. Made it so the ad promoted what the entire company sold, rather than just that specific collection. Whereas if the corporation had just said right out that the words were in the model’s perspective, they would’ve lost the potential of guys just reading the ad, being confused, and having then thought the ad was talking about what Levi’s sold (both men and women’s apparel) in general, having just caught on to the cool, rebellious, moods of the advertisement and be intimidated or intrigued enough into going and buying other things from the company.
That cleverly thought out manipulation didn’t come without the use of some kind of technique. Most great ads are based on the Aristotelian appeals of Logos, Pathos, and Ethos. This ad managed to use all three of the appeals impeccably.
Logos is the appeal to logic, or reasoning. It is the argument itself; the support that to evoke a cognitive, rational response from the reader. If you draw an unstated conclusion about a product depicted in an ad, Logos is often the cause. For example, a guy who thought that the ad is for clothing for boyfriends might’ve used Logos to draw that conclusion. Additionally, he may also have thought that if he buys the clothes Levi sells, he may be able to get a girl like the one in the picture. . A woman looking at the ad may have drawn the conclusion that by buying Levi’s boyfriend style clothing she could become as cool, confident, empowering, and maybe even as intimidating as the model in the photo.
The guys’ attraction for the girl in the photo would’ve come from the appeal of Pathos. Pathos is the emotional attractiveness evoking feelings such as fear, sympathy or jealousy. How the woman deduced that the model in the photo is cool, confident, empowering, and intimidating is an example of Pathos.
Examples of Ethos in the ad would be the use of a big, trademarked company such as Levi’s name and website. Ethos is what an author of an article will use to build credibility and trustworthiness with the reader. So by putting out the name of such a well respected company such as Levi’s, which has been a thriving business for many years now, the reader can better trust the product they’re being advertised based on the success of the previous merchandise the corporation has sold. The fact that the company has put the time and energy into making a website and trademarking there logos and brand name is only further proof to back up this impression.
Corporations work had to make sure there readers, current and prospective customers, get a great impression about there company. Using Ethos, Pathos, and Logos in their ads isn’t the only way they accomplish that. I once read an essay by Malcolm Gladwell, called The Science of Shopping, which discussed the more sinister side of how companies research how to better sell there merchandise. In the essay, it tells of a man named Paco. Paco has spent his entire life studying the mysterious human creature that is the American consumer. He made his career off corporations hiring him to place cameras in stores in order to study what can be improved and give anywhere from a twenty to two hundred page analysis for them to reference. Over twenty three years he’s gathered thousands of hours worth of information to make finding such as how you should never place expensive items, or shopping baskets right at the front of the store as when a consumer walks into a store they usually have a decompression time of about twenty-five feet to get used to there new surroundings; or how people will almost always then turn to there right. It all depends on how much the corporation is willing to pay.
Corporations will do just about anything in order to improve themselves. Another major strategy they’ll use is the careful selecting of where to place ads. The more meticulous a company is in placing an ad, the more likely for them to reach more of there targeted audience. A cleaning product company may put their print ad in Parenting, or Good Housekeeping magazine, whereas a videogame print advertisement will be placed in Gameinformer mag. The Levi’s Boyfriend ad would most likely be put into an everyday fashion magazine such as Seventeen, its aim at selling clothes, but not super high fashion ones as would be located in Vogue, or Elle magazines.
In a broader sense, marketing and advertisements are mostly based on the ideologies of the country they’re marketing to the people in. I first saw the Levi ad in my pop culture textbook entitled Signs of Life in the USA. Even if I hadn’t known the book was on ads in America and had only just looked at the ad I could guess which country it was being placed in. America is often referred to as the land of the free. The land with the highest amount of teens rebelling against there parents; teens, young adults, who are free to choose whoever they want for a boyfriend, and are expected to have one.
Levi’s Boyfriend Collection ad encompasses the epitome of all those mindsets. Rebellion. Empowerment. So much so, that it’s almost intimidating. To everyone who looks at it. The Levi Company has done a great job of setting up an image. An image that influences the mind of American consumer impeccably. So yes, ads may be based off the ideas and interests of individuals. But corporations are the masters of manipulation.