Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Freedom Song: Ross Diamond Says the New Levi's Promo Is All Talk and No Trousers. (Advertising)

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Freedom Song: Ross Diamond Says the New Levi's Promo Is All Talk and No Trousers. (Advertising)

Article excerpt

An intense young man is pacing a bleak, strip-lit room. Melancholy, stately orchestral music and the unkind lighting compound the feeling of confinement, when suddenly he breaks into a sprint, crashes through the end wall, and keeps on blasting through room after room in a series of explosive hurdles. The scene cuts to a washed-out, institutional corridor and our man bursts through the wall, surges across the screen and is gone, just ahead of a young woman doing exactly the same. We follow them as they hurtle through monotone rooms, oblivious in their own private storms of debris.

Abruptly, they stop and, for the first time, eye each other. Unnspoken understanding flicker across their faces -- they are young, they are beautiful and they know something we don't. An almost-smile passes between them and they start to run again. Finally, they career through a crumbling exterior wall and immediately, they surge up the vertical trunks of towering trees. On they rush, up into indigo space, where they float, suspended on their way to the stars, with the strapline "Levi's [R] Engineered Jeans: freedom to move". All that effort, just to sell trousers...

Once upon a time, Levi's did have genuinely iconic status, so the idea of a clothes company selling "freedom" is not quite as absurd as it initially appears. The institutional, vaguely eastern European austerity of the rooms from which the two chisel-jawed actors break out recalls the days when the very idea of "blue jeans" was enough to make one half of Europe envy the other (well, that and their "freedom to move").

The times, however, have changed. Add the stylistic influences of post-Berlin Wall and post-rave youth culture to the horrific fin-de-siecle vision of prime ministers and presidents in jeans, and it seems that this hard-wearing product finally wore thin some time in the 1990s. …

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