Annoying Levi’s ad on TV these days. Seen it? Never mind if you haven’t; you’re not missing much. Why am I writing a post about it? Because I find it interesting how retailers are using poetry to sell clothes.
The commercial in question is from Levi’s new campaign – Go Forth. The poem in question is Charles Bukowski’s The Laughing Heart, one of his more optimistic pieces, written in a gentler hand than the standard misanthropic deliveries he is known (and I will say loved) for.
Let’s face it, Charles Bukowski was a dirty old man, but he was everyone’s favorite bastard. Swilling whiskey with one hand, and feeling up a topless starlet with the other, was his idea of a portrait. And Levi’s has chosen his words as the new anthem for today’s denim wearing generation. Frankly, I don’t blame them. It was a great fucking idea.
The poem, is astounding. It simply is a work of staggering beauty and tenderness.
But Levi’s is little more than an industrial workwear brand turned urban fashion weathervane. “Here’s what jeans need to be doing now,” Levi’s seems to say, “This is what you need to own to be cool now; a pair of jeans that tells the world you buy into Bukowski’s beautiful philosophy of hope for the youth, and their future.”
And if you already own 150 pairs, here is a beautifully shot commercial featuring the gut-twisting words of an American poetic iconoclast, to convince you to walk into their stores and buy another.
Don’t fall for it. Listen to me: You don’t need more jeans. What you need is more poetry.
– The Laughing Heart –
by Charles Bukowski
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.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight