Exclusively for Levi's: Akshay Kumar unbuttons his jeans

By afaqs! news bureau , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | August 27, 2008
Kumar will be the first Indian celebrity to endorse the brand globally

Levi's & #BANNER1 & # 501, the oldest product from the Levi's stable, is being relaunched globally with a new campaign called 'Live Unbuttoned'. Bollywood superstar Akshay Kumar is the brand ambassador. Levi's 501 has been in use for the past 118 years across 110 countries.

The thought behind the global relaunch is to appeal to the youth to 'unbutton' themselves both physically and mentally. The new slimmer 501 was unveiled through a fashion show choreographed by Marc Robinson. Shyam Sukhramani, director, marketing, Levi's, claims that Levi's 501 is the original 'button fly' jeans and other brands only followed suit. Now, Levi's wants to use that very concept as the base of the relaunch of the range.

Globally, there are four TV commercials (Unbreakable, Secrets and Lies, Guitar and Jump) running across various networks. Sukhramani says some of these campaigns are a little too bold for Indian audiences and all of them will not be shown on television. However, they will be available on the website,

A shot from the TVC
Before Levi's launched the new campaign, it conducted extensive research, which revealed that today's youth crave for fame and popularity. That's why it decided to invite users to pitch in with their ideas for the 501 range. Users have to log on to the website and submit their ideas. The best one will be used in the final campaign and the user will feature in the campaign alongside Kumar.

Sukhramani says, "The entire campaign will be spread out over three-four months. In August, we have the launch, followed by the engagement period, and the contest in September and October. In November, we will announce the winner of the contest and start with production. The ad will be telecast in December."

Levi's has also created a campaign to announce the contest. The ad opens with Kumar getting cosy and intimate with a girl. She unbuttons his jeans and the director shouts 'Cut it!' just as things are heating up.

After both of them get their makeup touched up, the girl goes to Kumar and expresses her desire to 'unbutton' him all the way. Kumar grins and says, "Unbutton with me and be a part of my next Levi's 501 film. Watch it!" At this point, the Levi's logo and the website are displayed on the screen. The campaign was created by JWT Bengaluru and shot in Los Angeles.

Shumone Jaya Chatterjee, managing director, Levis Strauss India, reveals why the global relaunch is a milestone event. The first reason is that the brand was voted as the most fashionable icon of the 20th century by Time magazine. The brand has been addressing the youth for the past 118 years, which is 23 generations.

This is also the first time in the history of Levi's that an Indian celebrity has been roped in to endorse the brand globally. Another first for Levi's is that the ad is going to be co-produced by consumers. The brand will be launched simultaneously on a global scale using celebrities to promote it.

Kumar has provided creative inputs for the ad. Chatterjee told afaqs!, "We have done the research for the campaign, but Akshay has intuition and he can connect with the youth."

As is well known, Levis Strauss originates in the US. It has done various innovations in its home country, such as entering into an exclusive partnership with retail giant Wal-mart and producing a range of denims to be sold specifically at Wal-mart outlets.

Does it plan to follow the same route in India? Chatterjee says, "That is an innovative idea and we may do something similar here in India once the mall segment reaches that level here." The brand will be associated with the Lakme India Fashion Week.

Actor Deepika Padukone is the only other celebrity in India, who currently endorses Levi's signature range of denims for women.