Levi's to Men: Wear the Pants. Women to Levi's: Bad Marketing Decision.

BlogHer Original Post

I was once called a Vietnamese Guerrilla Woman for wearing pants, and now Dockers wants to keep me in a skirt. The Web and twitterverse have been all, well.. atwitter about Dockers' new "pants" commercial.   It really is damned annoying, if clever.

Dockers Wear the Pants
Image source: AdFreak.com

"Once upon a time, men wore the pants, and wore them well."  it shouts (all upper case)  "Women rarely had to open doors and little old ladies never crossed the street alone.  Men took charge because that's what they did."  

When I was a kid, girls weren't allowed to wear pants to school unless the temperature was well below freezing.  Even then, they had to be under skirts.

When I was in college, our gym suits had little skirts.  And lady-like skirts were required for Sunday lunch.

Within a couple of years though, the "pants revolution" began, but they had to be "pants suits" - and not like Hillary's.  These were pants and skirted tops that looked like aprons with sleeves.  And even those were controversial.  One of the bosses at CBS in New York would permit no women in pants in the office.  His researcher Helen put a sign on his door that said "Eva Braun wore pants."  It was funny but it didn't do much good.  It was a long time before pants were ok in the office.

Even a 23-year-old who might figure to be a bit more adventurous was fair game for teasing and worse if she showed up in pants.  All that we take for granted now just wasn't possible then.  To get, and keep a job, a girl had to dress "like a lady."  Often, that was also true to get a date, a bank loan or a decent table in a restaurant.

It's hard to believe now, which is good.  That means we have a new degree of freedom and independence, access to more choices and more ways to live the one life we have.  But it also means that an ad, however clever, and probably conceived and executed with considerable whimsy, can cause such an uproar.  Because nostalgia for being the one who "wears the pants" is only sweet sentiment if you're not one of the ones who wasn't allowed to put them on, one leg at a time or any other way.

Hello Ladies is swearing never to buy Levis (Dockers parent company) again.

Laurie Carlsson writes at Speaking of Women's Rights,

"I can’t speak for potential khaki-consumers everywhere, but the America I live in is working toward equality and acceptance. Let’s hope I am proven correct and this campaign falls flat on its face."

Melissa Boxer, So about what I Said closes her post saying...

"It's a nice play on words (and you all know there's nothing I love more in this world than a good round of funny word play), but in this case? Well, it just gets my shorts in a bunch - word play intended. I can't help but feel this is a step backward, not forward, on the bridge-the-gender-gap trail."

Cynthia Samuels, Partner Cobblestone Associates, LLP Blog and Media Strategies and Content Development Online and on Television   

Don’t Gel Too Soon


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