Levi’s legacy is undeniable. That said, in 2011 the brand was lagging and ready for a reinvention. With a new global advertising campaign called “Go Forth” poised to capture new attention, the Levi’s leadership team knew it wasn’t going to be enough to simply talk about the brand differently. They needed to do something different. Our stated objective was bold and succinct: “Make people feel the brand.”
From goldpanners and factory workers to James Dean and the Ramones, Levi’s heritage has always been grounded in outfitting pioneers. We focused the strategic positioning for this work on discovering today’s modern day pioneers, particularly those thriving within the creative class, and ultimately developed an engaging, platform-based program.
In order to engage with consumers meaningfully, we knew our work had to be participatory. After all, what sort of pioneer has ever been successful by leaning back? As such, we created a program entitled Levi’s Workshops – a series of craft-based community spaces built to encourage creation, inspiration, and collaboration. Our first workshop opened in Levi’s hometown of San Francisco. Centered around the city’s rich tradition in printmaking, the 60-day program drew in local artistic collaborators, influencers, and organizations ranging from the San Francisco Giants to slow food pioneer Alice Waters, and author Dave Eggers to participate in hands-on printmaking projects that brought their pioneering spirit to life.
Coming off a successful series of events and experiences in San Francisco the workshops moved to New York where we would celebrate a new craft, along with a new suite of collaborators.
Soon, the Levi’s Photo Workshop in New York City’s Soho neighborhood opened its doors. The 75-day activation included iconic collaborators such as April Bloomfield (The Spotted Pig, The John Dory), R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe, Taschen, Vice Magazine, Kodak, and HBO.
On the heels of two major workshops, Levi’s decided to go even bigger and we opened the Levi’s Film Workshop; premiering at Los Angeles’ Museum of Contemporary Art, and running for four months. The project offered weekly classes, as well as a full range of equipment rentals and workstations (stop motion, green screen, editing, etc.). The program collaborated with iconic filmmakers and artists, giving workshop attendees a unique opportunity to work with industry professionals.
In addition to the physical workshops created in each market, a comprehensive online ecosystem was developed to ensure that those who were interested in participating from afar could still join the conversation.
We embedded a full time editorial team at each workshop, creating original written, photographic, and video content that was distributed on Levi’s owned-and-operated social channels as well as through key media partners. This content helped to expose the work happening in the Levi’s Workshops to a broad, global audience. Original video content was also syndicated alongside a partnership with the Ace Hotels – offered on in-room VOD systems.
Live streams from events helped to pull audiences into the conversations with our influencers and let their voice be heard. All told, we were able to create over 1,000 pieces of original content that helped to tell the story of the brand in new and diverse ways.
At the end of the first three Levi’s Workshops, Levi’s leadership team declared that they would take the program global. We worked in partnership to develop a global playbook that would empower local offices and regional marketing teams to adopt the best practices from these programs and roll them out throughout the world. Soon, from Paris to Mumbai, Levi’s Workshops were happening everywhere – bringing an inspired sense of craft and a pioneering spirit to new consumers everywhere.