While one can probably name a few fashion brands more risque than Levi’s, but recently the denim brand has found itself in the midst of controversy.

Last week, Levi’s announced they would not be airing their “Go Forth” advertisement in the UK because of concern that its depictions of riots would further exacerbate the violence that has spread throughout the country. The real life riots in England were sparked by the police killing of Jamaican-Briton Mark Duggan. Since then, the riots have spread beyond the city of London and have set major cities like Birmingham ablaze.

The ads, which can still be seen on Levi’s website, have been viewed by more than 500,000 people on YouTube. The company says that it is pulling the advertisement in response to criticism that the campaign was ill-timed and “out of sensitivity for what is happening in the UK.” A Levi’s spokesperson said:

“While ‘Go Forth’ is about embodying the energy and events of our time, it is not about any specific movement or political theme; rather, it’s about optimism, positive action and a pioneering spirit.”

The poem read during the ad is “The Laughing Heart” by Charles Bokowski. While it reflects the pioneering spirit, it also starts off with the lines:

your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is a light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
 it beats the darkness…

you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.

While the overall message of the poem is a positive one, should Levi’s have pulled the ads when they did? Can an ad really spark more violence or are the critics being paranoid? Weigh in Clutchettes and gents- tell us what you think!

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  • whilome

    I saw that ad in the preview for 30 Minutes or Less (which I walked out of, btw) on Saturday. I was like, “really?” But what truly struck me was that there wasn’t one black person in the commercial out of all the scenes of frolicking, swimming, jamming out, kissing and stuff. I felt less consternation and more, “there’s another product not marketing to someone who looks like me. Buhbye Levis.”

  • Alyssa

    Really? riske? Dictionary.com

    • whilome

      What’s wong with “risque”? It’s apt because of all the sultry, edgy ad campaigns that Levi’s have run since the mid-aughts when they tried to re-jigger this workaday brand into a sophisticated label.

      Remember the ones that looked like low-budget porn and the backlash they got? Yeah. Risque.

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