Posted by: nickgerlich | September 12, 2007

Dressed For Success?

One of the hallmarks of 21C marketing is the use of carefully targeted marketing efforts. Specific products and messages for specific customer groups is now the norm, as a one-size-fits-all approach has fallen by the wayside. It seldom ever works out that one generic campaign for all will meet with success.

Or so the folks at Levi’s have concluded.

Levi's AdThe latest ads from Levi’s are certainly attention getting. The scene in which a man in the act of pulling on a pair of jeans causes everything around him to burst up through the floor has Clio Award written all over it.

But pay attention very carefully the next time you see the ad, for there are two versions on television. The primary version is viewable here, while the alternate version can be viewed here.

See the difference?

The second version is currently being aired only on LogoTV, the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) station. Which means that Levi’s is actively courting the gay population with their ads. They plan to air it on other cable stations in the near future.

While some of my students may experience discomfort with even discussing (or linking to) such a notion, the fact remains that this is a very relevant consideration for 21C marketers. Basically, should we market to gays like we would to any other market segment? And how (if at all) should our personal convictions weigh in this decision?

We’ve all heard the argument that purports 10% of the population is gay. I’m not sure I can believe that; it could be higher or lower, because a lot of folks are simply too intimidated to answer this question honestly. But one thing I do know: Of the people who have identified with the LGBT group, they tend to be above-average in income and education.

Which makes them an attractive segment for some marketers. Including Levi’s.

We don’t watch LogoTV in our house (the first time I found out about it was while channel surfing on DirecTV…I quickly turned to something else). While previewing these ads with my wife yesterday, I had to order my oldest daughter to step away, because I don’t think she is quite ready to understand this idea.

But do not paint me a right-wing conservative hatemonger just yet. I might add an interesting anecdote from the annals of our family travels. Our girls were much younger, and we were traveling across the Panhandle of Florida near Pensacola. Along the shoreline there are numerous parking areas with beach access. Not knowing one from the other, we simply picked one at random.

We lugged all of our beach gear out onto the white sand, set out our blankets, cooler, and kids toys, and proceeded to have a good time. About an hour later, while surveying the landscape, I made an interesting discovery, which I pointed out to my wife.

“Hey Becky…take a look around. Notice anything? We’re the only hetero couple here.”

“Hmmm…” was all she could muster.

But there was nothing to fear. It wasn’t like we had stumbled into a rough neighborhood or anything. And our girls were too young to notice that boys were with boys, and girls with girls.

So we just stayed. And we had a great day. The folks with whom we were sharing the public beach reached their hands in friendship to us, pointing out dolphins and sea turtles to our girls, and engaging in conversation.

We left that day having learned an important lesson in life. While we may not approve of a certain lifestyle, it does not mean we should shun someone. It does not mean we should kick them out of our churches, political office, or the neighborhood.

Maybe someone at Levi’s has been to that same beach.

Dr “Eyes Opened” Gerlich


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