For the last three years, Levi’s has been urging Americans, and then last year the world in its first ever global campaign, to “Go Forth” and make a difference. Be a Pioneer! Work Hard! Be Brave!
Since then, the leaders and governments of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen have all been overthrown and plenty of other countries throughout the globe have experienced change. Levi’s probably isn’t responsible for this, but it did hold back its 2011 commercial in the UK for a bit because it would have originally launched right in the middle of riots in England and that wouldn’t have been the most brilliant PR move.
Maybe because it’s an election year. Maybe it doesn’t want to rabble rouse during the Olympics. Maybe the company is afraid of its own power. Or maybe (more likely) the campaign has run its course and the company just wanted to put its dollars elsewhere. Whatever its reasons, Levi’s has decided to not run its “Go Forth” campaign this year for the first time since it launched in 2009 on Independence Day.
The W+K-created campaign started only in the U.S. with the Walt Whitman poem “Pioneers! Oh Pioneers!” fittingly at its centerpiece. It celebrated the American spirit to make things happen and change (all while wearing Levi’s, of course). After all, other brand would you wear to a demonstration?
Now, there will be no fourth Go Forth for the Levi's brand. The whole campaign wrapped up with a benefit concert for Braddock last November.
Below, a look back at three years of Levi's Go Forth, starting with the 2009 Whitman tone-poem —
2010 saw the campaign shift to celebrating work, in keeping with Levi's brand DNA and roots as denim workwear. Go Forth in its second year focused on the down-on-its-luck community of Braddock, PA (with a John Hillcoat-directed spot) in addition to creating an experiential event-marketing tour around the theme of "We Are All Workers," with a series of pop-up workshops in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, and Berlin exploring contemporary creativity and artisanal craftsmanship (photography, printmaking, filmmaking) —
2011 saw the Go Forth campaign go global, with in-language versions of this spot: