Magazine article Marketing

Jeans Genie

Magazine article Marketing

Jeans Genie

Article excerpt

It's a comforting thought that someone whose career began at their local supermarket can end up as marketing director for Levi Strauss UK.

Who would have thought that stacking Campbells soup could ignite in Roy Edmondson an undying passion for brands, eventually leading to handling one of the style icons of this century: Levis 501s.

It's hard to imagine what can go wrong with a product like 501s. You just keep cutting the denim, nailing in the rivets and pumping out those ads.

"You can never afford to be complacent," says Edmondson curled up on his chair in his Soho office. "You either decide you want to play the game or you just opt out. We are definitely in the running."

As a classic fashion brand Levis has to keep up to speed with every development in street culture or see its 25% market share eroded by increasingly aggressive competitors. This means that Edmondson spends a lot of his time in research. The heavy bags beneath his eyes betray a commitment to not miss a beat of street culture. He has a collection of 10,000 records and loves choosing the music for the ads.

Whether it is a Pulp concert or what Blur's Damon Albarn is wearing, Edmondson has to be aware of the different nuances that make up the individual styles of the UK.

"It's like being round a firecracker. He is a very creative person but someone who also challenges the norm. He is perfect for the job," says Amanda Le Roux, Levis UK franchise manager.

Levis' marketing philosophy is intricately woven into the fickle world of fashion and music, as Edmondson explains: "We don't make it, the consumer makes it. They choose how they style it; however we need to give them some clues. But if we were to just put up an image of a white t-shirt, jeans and leather jacket each time we would be dead in the water," he says.

He describes his job as being a bit like a traffic cop. "You have to keep everything flowing from all directions be it clothing styles, retailing, or music and then mushing it all together with our strategy."

While Levis' strategy remains unaltered, its short-term tactics are undergoing change.

True to his risk-taking nature, Edmondson has temporarily dropped terrestrial TV for the latest Levis ad, 'Washroom', in favour of more targeted youth marketing. Festivals, tours and multi-media events, what he dubs as the "new above-the -line", are all possible targets for the brand as Edmondson seeks to capture the ever-diminishing attention span of his 18- to 25-year-old audience. …

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