By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
The newest marketing campaign for Levi Strauss’ 501 jeans exhorts young people to “live unbuttoned” and features sexually suggestive ads with young men and women unbuttoning and removing their jeans.
The president and CEO of Levi Strauss & Co., John Anderson, is unrepentant in a recent press release where he claims the theme of the ‘Live Unbuttoned’ campaign centers on the experience of “unbuttoning” yourself and breaking free from inhibitions and convention.
He describes the campaign’s theme as one of “unrestrained self-expression” and explains that the characters’ “physical unbuttoning of their jeans . . . captures the provoking theme of self-expression and unrestrained behavior.”
Pro-family leaders are appalled by the commercials and the dangerous message they’re communicating to teens.
“While you would think Levi’s would promote their brand with images of people desiring to wear–not remove–their jeans, they have instead turned to the very type of sexualized marketing we have been fighting for years,” said Rick Schatz, president and CEO of the National Coalition for the Protection of Children and Families.
The commercial, which targets young men and women, blatantly promotes a risky, sexualized lifestyle—a lifestyle that is fully realized only when jeans come “unbuttoned,” he said.
“In other words, Levi’s is encouraging our teens and young adults to engage in random, premarital sexual encounters, which we know has serious negative consequences. Their marketing campaign encourages a moral philosophy of sexuality that not only is unfulfilling but also extremely harmful to America’s youth.”
As Schatz points out, statistics clearly demonstrate the consequences of a society that “lives unbuttoned”:
o American teens lead the industrialized world in sexually transmitted diseases
o American teens lead the entire world in unwanted pregnancies
o American teens are more likely to become pregnant and have multiple partners than any other teenager on the planet
o 60% of first marriages are preceded by cohabitation
The National Coalition spearheaded a successful public awareness campaign against Abercrombie & Fitch in 2003 for using similar prurient marketing tactics.
“We are poised to call the same attention to Levi’s and other companies if they continue their irresponsible promotion of recreational sex to our children,” Schatz said.
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