Advertisement Analysis

Levi’s Jeans (Refrigerator) (1988)

In this particular Levi’s 501 commercial the company used a combination of some very subtle and some more clearly blunt ways of influencing a potential buyer to invest into their products.

Of the blatant techniques Levi’s got a woman to looking wanting at a relatively handsome man making him work for her as he gets closer, but chasing after him once he’s wearing the ‘Levi’s’ branded jeans appealing to the increased libido in men, Levi’s takes advantage of this urge suggesting the jeans will attract the attention of female partners with promise of promiscuity.

In the detail by the theme regarding the location it looks like an older West, this inspires connotations of the Wild West where men had guns, were breadwinners as women were housewives without second thought, killed Indians, used dynamites sticks to blow mountains for gold, leisure time was drinking in bars, they rode horses, some were bounty hunters, some were on wanted posters for a number of prices and had legal stand offs to the death. This era culturally had men be manly and people in western civilisations will identify as above them from what can be considered a dangerous, significant and self-governed lifestyle. And in some very insignificant way by purchasing ‘Levi’s’ jeans you are living vicariously through a cowboy as you believe you can identify with them because some aspect of you and them parallels, so in theory the person wearing the jeans becomes the embodiment of these people and makes them feel bigger than they are so you get a hit of ego and confidence with ‘Levi’s’ apparel.

Between the lines there’s a lot we can live without, but one of the things we can’t is food, we’d die from starvation without it making it an absolute necessity in self preservation, this suggests that if the jeans are in the fridge then they’re a necessity necessary to survival- you literally can’t live without them so you ‘have’ to make the jeans part of your essentials too.

Some more obvious clues are the Levi’s brand being relatively expensive for the general population to afford and by owning them you have a social status above those of the general population, so you feel self-important wearing them.

Technical Practice


Levi Strauss did not start television advertising in the US until 1966, and it was not until the late 1970s that Levi’s were advertised on television in the UK.

By the mid 1980s, not only were jeans changing (shrink-fit, stonewashed etc), but they were becoming high fashion clothing with fashion designers moving into the market. ‘Designer jeans’ began to erode Levi’s market share. Levi was to hit back with a series of innovative television commercials for the 501 jeans. These commercials featured classic American rock music mixed with nostalgia and romance to re-emphasise their key messages to a new generation.

Themes and ideas to explore with your students

Here are some questions/themes you might wish to get your students to explore using these resources: Did the 1980s Levi commercials affect rather than reflect youth culture in Britain at this time? How are young women represented in these commercials? Explore any cultural and social shift in this representation. How is youth and age represented through the decades in these commercials? Does the representation of ‘youth’ change as time passes eg. age of actors, situations they are in etc.. How does it stay the same?


This course is written and produced by the History of Advertising Trust and is licensed for use in a classroom context only. Terms and conditions can be found here: HAT copyright statement IPA Effectiveness Case Studies are copyright of the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising. They are reproduced with the permission of the IPA and Further case studies can be purchased direct from the IPA.


Agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty

Campaign: Levi’s 501

Advertiser: Levi Strauss & Co.

Brand: Levi’s



Save the Children (London War-torn) (2014)

To sell the idea that people should freely give money for a human rights cause that doesn’t effect them Save the Children made a video set in London, a well established part of the world which people are well aware of. The video depicts the goings-on of a typical family that we can recognise in a westernised society and it voyeurs a ‘white’, ‘blue eyed’, ‘brunette’, ‘British’ girl in the midst of the beginnings of a war on familiar home ground. The ad breaks the ethnic and national division of societies by inflicting someone’s horrors happening in their lives in a separate country on one of ours and in doing this a western audience and especially the English one will feel less apathetic as they start linking children’s and their children’s traits with bystanders of war, strangers cease to be neglectable foreigners, not an exclusive tragedy in a detached, far off land where someone else’s unfortunate circumstances don’t seem quite real even when they’re there; Syria’s children become the faces of our own, and the audience resonates with this because the children we know live a socially constructed golden age making the video raw to our unmet standards and society when there’s a child we know coming of age so soon on account of war. Save the Children touches on the population’s need to protect childhood, their sympathy and love for children plays the part in rubbing them the wrong way impacting their perspective them from being apprehensive to spare a portion of their money for a cause made personal to them.

Paragraphs and punctuation are for nerds and squares *Drops the mic*

Technical Practice

Produced by the creative agency, Don’t Panic and creative director, Richard Beer. Beer was drawn to the ‘second a day’ format used by Sam Cornwell. The format of the Save the Children video is a combination of the second a day format with the perspective of the photo a day format.

The agency quickly realised that the budget for the video simply wouldn’t allow for a Syrian narrative, and so the idea graduated into setting the story in Britain. The film then ends with the words ‘Just because it isn’t happening here, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening’ – giving the film a whole new edge. Beer explains that the restrictive budget in fact then simply allowed the agency to be more creative.

After the agency decided on the direction for the video, Beer sat down with Joe Wade, managing director at Don’t Panic and one of the creators of The Revolution Will Be Televised, and director Martin Stirling of production company Unit9, to create a shot list for the filming, which would take place over the course of just two days at various locations in Stoke Newington and East London.

It was Wade’s idea to create a number of echoes in the film, from the little girl’s mother combing her hair at the start, to picking nits out of her hair later, creating correlations between the two versions of her life.

The dialogue for the news items heard in the film, written by the agency, was brought to life when Don’t Panic was put in touch with Natasha Kaplinsky, one of the charity’s patrons, who was keen to lend her voice to it. Beer believes the addition of Kaplinsky added a “professional authenticity” to the film.

Authenticity was important to the campaign, as Save the Children wanted the film to accurately reflect life in Syria since the start of the war. Therefore the client and the agency worked together to ensure everything depicted was factually accurate and based on real-life examples, which made for “pretty tragic reading”, says Beer.

The charity also wanted the film to be objective and so took out anything that could be seen as specifying “one side versus another”, according to Beer.

Despite a “really low” shooting budget, Beer says he was “awed” by the amount of effort put in by Unit9 to shoot 90 scenes in just two days.

effort manifested itself in costume changes, make-up, props and a “huge amount of effort” constructing every scene to tell the story effectively, according to Beer.

Smoke & Mirrors was brought in to work on the colour and grading – a deliberate process resulting in rich, vibrant colour at the beginning of the film, which has been washed out by the end. Factory also came on board to create the sound effects of gunfire and bombs used in the ad. According to Beer, the finished ad would not have looked as polished without the help of these two companies, who went above and beyond due to the nature of the project. “They decided to pitch in way more than they would have done in a normal commercial project,” he says.

Agency: Don’t Panic London
Creative director and script writer: Richard Beer
Script writer: Joe Wade
Account manager: Sam Adams
Project manager: Christina Chan

Video production: Unit9 Films
Director: Martin Stirling
Producer: Geoff Morgan
Producer: Irene Lobo
Executive producer: Elliott Tagg
Executive producer: Michelle Craig
Director of photography: Jacob Proud
Art director: Charlotte Cooke
1st AD: Erica Gianesini
Costume designer: Joseph Crone
Makeup artist: Katie Coward

Grade: Smoke & Mirrors
Sound design/mix: Factory

Little girl: Lily-Rose Aslandogdu
Mother: Michelle Archer
Father: Timothy Bond
Little boy: Kaizer Akhtar


The ad was released on 5 March 2014. It received news coverage immediately in many UK newspapers and magazines including the The Independent,[12] Telegraph,[9] Huffington Post (UK),[3] Express,[7] Metro, and The Mirror.[10] It was also covered in Time Magazine,[13] Adweek,[14] Al Arabiya,[15] and the Washington Post.[16] The coverage in the Washington Post noted that the video would only seem shocking to people who had not experienced or read closely about the lived experiences of people who had gone through civil wars, and highlighted the newspaper’s profiles of refugees from civil wars.[17]

The video acquired more than 23 million views on YouTube in less than a week.[18] The reasons for its virality were dissected by a number of commentators, including Fairsay[19] and The Drum.[5] The following factors were identified: strong emotions, a video title (“Most Shocking Second a Day”) that created what Upworthy has called a “curiosity gap” by providing just enough information to make people click to want to know more, and a smart initial paid promotion and publicity in the right circles.[19] The video was also listed as the first of five highly successful nonprofit branded videos in the first quarter of 2014.[8][20]

In November 2014, American actor Ashton Kutcher posted an A Plus article about the video on his Facebook page (A Plus is a website co-founded by Kutcher, who is also Chairman of the Board).[11][21] This resulted in 10 million page views of the video and made it the second most-viewed brand video of the week on YouTube.[22]

As of April 2015, the video has accumulated over 46 million views on YouTube.[1] According to Don’t Panic London’s website, the video was featured twice on the Reddit front page, was shared 920,000 times, and caused Save the Children‘s YouTube channel subscriptions to increase by over 1000%.[4]

The advert was publicised through:

A making-of video was produced by ‘Lovie Letters’ following Most Shocking Second A Day winning Lovie Awards for Public Service and Activism and Best Individual Performance.

Barclaycard (Get More Out of Today) (2015)

Studies have shown music to be the most memorable in relation to all other advertisement techniques. Barclaycard have composed not only music because it’s effective, but written good lyrics to inspire people to make the most of their days with a feel-good, catchy song. Barclaycard attaches these feelings of living to their new services to entice people into getting on board, so the ad insinuates association with them will get you to live more.

Another reason the ad is successful in its execution could be the timing because among the highest killers in the UK is suicide rising since 2011 and more prominently among males, this can have a more profound effect on the population now than say releasing it in 2010 when the general population’s mood was better; Barclaycard proposes a better look of the future less bleak offering a remedy with them to turn people’s state around, it’s a little intrusive on people’s vulnerability looking at it this way, but it can sell the service so it’s implied to be more than it is by overstating it’s effects and some more influential people believe the exaggerations. It’s an awfully well time ad. This same theory can be applied to the amount of technology we use- specifically a significant number of people live hovering over depthless screens, sponging endless data strangers make to occupy our time which doesn’t create proper, meaningful memories that round us into real people; people don’t have the memories to look back on and analyse to refine their character. Secondary socialisation between any given person and you doesn’t happen sufficiently for people to become acquainted to social norms, to bond with other members and have the skills to interact with people different from themselves. Barclaycard makes it out as though their service will capture these moments for you, with ‘them’.

Technical Practice




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