Badvertising: Do These Jeans Make My Ad Campaign Look Fat?

In this installment of MarketSmiths’ Badvertising, we look at the Levi’s campaign to sell jeans with the tagline “hotness comes in all shapes and sizes”—which was great, except the images it was paired with showed super skinny models. As usual, do not try this at home!

Levi’s “Hotness” Campaign Gets a Cold Shoulder

In 2010, Levi’s introduced its new line of women’s jeans with the following copy: “At Levi’s, we believe that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. That’s why we developed Curve ID – a revolutionary fit system focusing on a woman’s shape and proportions, not her size.” This photo was typical of they ones that accompanied the campaign.

Advertisement about diversity by Levi's, featuring only skinny, white models.
Source: Levi’s

All shapes and sizes? There is hardly any difference between these models, except for slight differences in their booties—and not one of them comes close to reflecting the size of the average American woman: size 14. And, of course, the models are all white. Controversy ensued.

What up Levis? You had one job—to show that you understand the diversity of women’s bodies—and you blew it.

Reality May Bite, But It’s Still Reality

When writing copy and developing ad campaigns, it’s important to remember to tie your content to the real world, not your fantasy version of it. You can’t make a bold statement, such as “Hotness comes in all shapes and sizes,” and then show the usual pretty, skinny, white models. (Hey, we all know how difficult it is for pretty, skinny, white models to get work, but come on…)

Whether you’re writing website copy, website content, blog content—it doesn’t matter—back up your premise with content and visuals that support your position, instead of giving people a reason to tear it down. Good copywriting tells a brand’s story—great copywriting demonstrates it.

Jim recalls a priceless piece of advice that an English teacher once gave him. Throwing a dictionary onto his desk he said, “All of the words are in there, Yoakum, just put them in the right order.” Putting the right words in the right order has been Jim’s goal ever since, and he has honed his skills over the years to include award-winning copywriting, the scripting of three produced movies, the authoring of numerous novels and non-fiction books—and even a stint as writing partners with the late Graham Chapman of Monty Python fame. He is also US Curator of Chapman’s archives. To make himself even more insufferable, Jim has also produced comedy CDs and DVDs. While Jim does not lament his misspent youth, playing drums in a rock ‘n’ roll band, he does however wish he had back all of those brain cells that he ruthlessly killed.

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Digital by MadPipe. Photography by Chellise Michael.

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