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Company: Levi Strauss & Co.
    View Company Scorecard / Contact Company
Brand: Levi's
Ad Title: Dustin
Business Category: Fashion/Apparel
Media Outlets: Television
Country: United States
Region: North America
Agency: TBWA Worldwide
Year: 1998
Target: Mainstream
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Theme(s)

Real GLBT Person

Theme Breakdown

AdRespect Score: 
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In a series that interviews real people called "What's real," this campaign for Levi includes an awkward, semi-nerdy kid named Dustin, who stands facing the camera and talks.

He says about his dad, "We were talking about my neighbors, because my neighbors hated me and stuff. They didn't like the music I listened to, because I used to listen to my music really loud and dance around in my room. We were talking about how they hated me and stuff. He was like, 'That's just the type of people they are' -- they're like HIM. 'They don't like homosexuals, they think you're a drug user.' I said, 'Dad, they don't know that I'm gay.' He said, "What did you say?!' And I said, 'I mean, they don't know that I do drugs!' And then I'm like, 'I mean...!' "

While Dustin may not be a model representation, his inclusion in the campaign is rare for gay youth.

Another in print, features a black woman holding a sign that says "Don't tell my girlfriend I'm gay."

"We wanted to give youth a voice," a Levi spokesman said. "They were saying some profound and humorous things."

It's a perfect fit for a brand like Levi which, despite its headquarters location in San Francisco and gay-positive employee policies, began a significant gay marketing effort somewhat belatedly.

The denim manufacturer expanded its gay marketing efforts in November 1998, about the same time as the TV ad. Levi created its first gay-specific advertising behind the Dockers brand as an insert to OUT magazine. It featured profiles of ten openly gay heroes, featuring people like James Dale, whose case against the New Jersey Boy Scouts went to the US Supreme Court.

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Steven Bluestine , New York, NY
I found this commercial much more negative than neutral. Yet another linkage of homosexuality and drug use, for which several other ads (deservedly) get a "negative" rating. And the teen's blubbering non-speech may be realistic, but it hardly makes me think of him positively (or make me want to buy anything he would wear). My impression is of a pretty messed-up person, and, as you can see, I therefore had quite an intense bad reaction to this ad.

Deirdre , Denver
Well, I have to disagree at least in part. As far as linking drug use and gayness goes, it could just have well been linking drug use and youth. It's not my favorite aspect of this ad, but overall, I liked this kid a lot. He seemed fairly well adjusted to me -- he also seemed happy and secure with who he was and those are good things in my opinion.

Aster , Stamford, CT
Hee. Ugly kid, but it made me laugh just reading it. I don't see how this could be considered negative and myself would rate it positive. Dustin seems comfortable with being gay and has a good attitude about having to remain closeted, joking about it. Or maybe that's just how I saw it...

Logan , Dallas, TX
I think this is a very good ad, it is so realistic and funny, teenagers are just like this. The humor comes in that he realizes he has just outed himself and told his Dad he uses drugs, and seems pretty okay with it. Great ad!

Mario , Chapel Hill, NC
I didn't think you were supposed to assume he was actually a drug user.

It sounded like he blurted the gay thing first, then realizing what he said, switched to something else that would make sense given his father's comment, and then realized that that wasn't a better alternative.

You know, the sort of thing they do in sitcoms all the time. The person says something, realizes it was bad, and switches to something else plausible and then realizes that's just as bad.

I don't that I'd wanna buy jeans because of this ad though.

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