Last week I wrote about the booty-fication of American brands, as evidenced by Old Navy’s Booty Reader and Booty Pop Panties. Once upon a time, a slang term like booty would have been an advertising taboo (tabooty?). But once the barriers fall, they fall hard. Booty now seems as innocent and quaint as “You bet your sweet bippy.”
As evidence, I submit this new slogan from 135-year-old denim pioneer Levi Strauss & Co.
“All Asses Were Not Created Equal”: Now, there’s a rallying cry for a new generation.
Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure this is the first time ass has been used in a major retailer’s advertising. Or any big company’s advertising. Of course, we’ve been seeing creeping ass-ification in the vernacular for several years. It was way back in 1992—in the “Homer the Heretic” episode of “The Simpsons”—that Homer Simpson uttered “You bet your sweet . . . ass!” Which prompted a massive outcry of . . . meh.
As with the Booty Reader, Levi’s new Curve ID line attempts to customize the way jeans fit on different-shaped bodies. Fashionista, citing Women’s Wear Daily, reports that Levi’s took full-body scans of 60,000 women and—amazingly—distilled the results into just three body (or ass) types, depicted above.*
(Hat tip to Sally at Already Pretty for the Fashionista link.)
Adweek reports that the Curve ID campaign was developed by Wieden + Kennedy, which also created the hugely popular Old Spice “I’m on a horse” campaign. The Levi’s ads began running last week in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.
So the ladies’ derrieres are, so to speak, covered. But what about the gents and their rear ends? Well, Lee Jeans—a denim company almost as old as Levi Strauss—has risen to the challenge, or the bait, although the language of its advertising is distinctly more timid than Levi’s. New spokesman Mike Rowe, creator/host of TV’s “Dirty Jobs” show, talks about Lee Premium Select jeans in ads that emphasize the product’s comfortable fit. Oh, and by the way, Rowe says, a little sheepishly, “My girlfriend says they make my butt look good.” (Even the famously taboo-avoiding New York Times used that line, without comment, in a review of the campaign.)
In a Web-only ad, Rowe borrows a phrase from the Old Spice man and asks to have a word with “the ladies.” Because guys (straight ones, anyway) don’t care how their butts look, right?
I sense an air of desperation in Levi’s and Lee’s attempts to talk dirty, as though they’re frantically trying to keep up with badass jeansmongers such as Rock & Republic, whose styles bear names like F#@k Me B#@!h. So far, though, I’ve seen exactly zero protests of the new ads’ language. But that may change when the campaigns move away from the coasts and into more conservative regions of the country.
* Am I the only one who thinks the curve ratios of the three asses in the ad look virtually identical? Frankly, none of those gals is what a rational person would call voluptuous.