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Levi’s Curve ID College Tour Makes Contest of the Perfect Jeans Fit

By Oct 18, 2011

Finding jeans that fit can be a traumatic experience when done in the privacy of a store dressing room. So how successful can you be persuading women to get fitted for jeans in an open-sided tent on the quad of their college campus, in front of all their friends and fellow students?

Pretty successful, judging by the results Levi’s and agency Grow Marketing are seeing this fall in a live-tour promotion for Levi’s Curve ID line of women’s jeans. According to Gabrey Means, Grow co-founder and creative director, the campaign—now in mid-tour of 10 universities—is doing very well at bringing women into the tent, taking them backstage for a jeans fitting, and getting them to show the results to their friends in front of a huge mirror.

One incentive to take part is a heavy round of pampering. Women who sign up when the “Mirror, Mirror… What’s My Curve ID?” tour comes to their campus not only get a fitting session with a Levi’s consultant before trying on and catwalking their ideal jeans but also get hair and makeup tips from professional stylists, a coat of limited edition Levis Curve ID gold nail polish, and a photo by a fashion photographer.

There’s also the incentive of winning a payout for their schools. Levi’s and Grow have arranged the tour around five highly active college football rivalries, such as UC San Diego/ San Diego State University and UPenn/ Villanova. At each pair of stops, Levi’s offers to donate $10,000 to benefit women to the college that brings out the most Curve ID participants.

Each woman who goes through the entire 30-minute “Mirror, Mirror” experience, from custom fitting to photo, receives a chip that she can place in one of three jars representing women’s arts, athletics or academics at her school. Should her school beat its designated rival in bringing out more participants, Levi’s will donate the $10,000 to be used in the field that received the most votes.

The Mirror, Mirror Tour, which has already reached six colleges and has four to go, has seen a strong turnout, with an average of 325 women per campus going through the whole fitting-to-photo process, says Gabrey Means, co-founder and creative director for Grow Marketing.

“I was talking to some of the girls who were going through at SDSU, and one of them said, ‘Oh I’m definitely supporting women’s academics, because I’m on scholarship here',” Means says. “Then some of the athletes came through together. It’s neat to see how it shakes out on different campuses, and what causes they decide to support.”

The measurements are taken on stage in front of the audience in the tent—all women, although Means says the tour has attracted a good share of men hanging around outside the pop-up. Measurements are done over clothing, and the women are taken backstage to try on their suggested jeans. While Levi’s will take those measurements in private if requested, so far no one has asked for that treatment.

“This is a pretty confident generation,” Means says. “They jump right up there, and it’s like, ‘Bring it on!’”

Participants who get the Mirror, Mirror makeover are then given a chance to buy their ideal jeans online at the Levis.com Curve ID Web site. “When they work with the stylists, the stylists are actually writing down all the information about their perfect jeans,” says Means. “They walk away knowing their perfect curve, their size, and we have different washes we can show them. If they have the time, we have iPads on site where they can buy the jeans directly, or they have an offer that they can use on the Web site later, if they have to run to class or something.”

Last spring Levi’s took a different tack in generating buzz around its Curve ID line, which professes to fit jeans to a woman’s shape and body type rather than just her size. Together with new media agency Katalyst, Levi’s reached out to 14 fashion bloggers/ influencers to try the Curve ID line and report their findings in online videos. That buzz campaign served as the run-up to a nationwide trunk show for the Curve ID line.

With this tour, Levi’s was going for a more grassroots approach, Means says. Social media still figures into the tour; Facebook Events is used to generate pre-event buzz for each of the campus visits. And brand ambassadors at the events let participants post their makeover photos to their Facebook walls via tablet devices. Participants also have the option to let Levi’s use their jeans photos on the Mirror, Mirror Facebook page, which has racked up 7.8 million “likes” to date.

“This time Levi’s is going straight to the girl, with the aim of getting her and her friends into the jeans,” Means says.

The U.S. college tour is actually part of a much larger global “Mirror, Mirror” promotion now going on in 18 countries around the world. Means says that Grow, which collaborated with Levi’s on designing that global campaign, helped the brand think through how the “mirror, Mirror” campaign could be adapted to suit cultural nuances in France, Brazil, Portugal or South Africa. For example, while the regional tours in some of those countries also focus on college campuses, in others the pop-ups locate in shopping malls or other high-traffic public spaces. Those global photos can also be found on the tour’s Facebook page.

Relatively little pre-publicity is needed when you’re conducting an event on a college campus, Means says: “The excitement seems to feed on itself. We had amazing student producers we had identified on each campus beforehand, and they got the word out among different groups. We also dropped [pre-launch] material at the women’s athletic centers, at the sorority houses, and women’s study locations—not just invitations but also these cute branded cupcakes inviting everyone to come down.”

The Mirror, Mirror tent also serves as a “living billboard” the day before the event opens on each campus. Levi’s and Grow worked with the colleges to secure locations that would be in the heart of activity, with pass-by appeal and maximum exposure to the Mirror, Mirror tent, its Levi’s branding and a DJ.

In the U.S., the tour designed an itinerary that would minimize the prospects of rain, since the Mirror, Mirror pop-up tent is an outdoor installation. U Penn/ Villanova offered the only real meteorological risk; other than San Diego, other stops have been University of Arizona/ Arizona State, Texas A&M/ Southern Methodist U, and the final destination, University of Florida/Florida State.