Pop-Culture | Posted by Julie Z on 01/13/2010

Wear The Pants

 Dockers Wear The Pants Ad Campaign

Docker's "Wear The Pants" Ad Campaign

Transcript: Once upon a time, men wore the pants, and wore them well. Women rarely had to open doors and little old ladies never crossed the street alone. Men took charge because that’s what they did. But somewhere along the way, the world decided it no longer needed men. Disco by disco, latte by foamy non-fat latte, men were stripped of their khakis and left stranded on the road between boyhood and androgyny. But today, there are questions our genderless society has no answers for. The world sits idly by as cities crumble, children misbehave and those little old ladies remain on one side of the street. For the first time since bad guys, we need heroes. We need grown-ups. We need men to put down the plastic fork, step away from the salad bar and untie the world from the tracks of complacency. It’s time to get your hands diry. It’s time to answer the call of manhood. It’s time to WEAR THE PANTS.

did the folks at Dockers read this, perhaps?

did the folks at Dockers read this, perhaps?

Jennifer Sey, Dockers’ vice president of global marketing, was interviewed in Brandweek about this campaign and the motivation behind it. She stated, “the most surprising fact of all [that the brand’s research found] was that men’s testosterone levels have been dropping by a percentage point a year for the last 20 years. All these factors add to up say, “Wow, men are struggling in today’s world.” [And we, as khaki manufacturers] have not really been talking to them. But men have told us that they are expected to be more sensitive, to do more at home. They are confused about what it means to be a man today. This led us to the pants idea and essentially, the goal is to provide empathy and encouragement, but also a sense of humor and to help define the new modern idea of man, which includes sensitivity, chivalry, ambition, decisiveness, as well as empathy, so we can inspire today’s men to be men.

Wow. Where to start?

1) Men “struggling” (struggling = not adhering to hyper-masculinity standards) in today’s society are probably thinking to themselves, “I really wish somebody would bombard me with idiotic masculinity stereotypes through an insulting advertisement. And you know what…khaki manufacturers are definitely the ones who should be doing that. They have failed me by their lack of sexist ads.” Like khakis themselves are known for being super masculine?

2) How DARE men be asked to take a more active role in their relationships and homes. And heaven forbid they ever show that they have feelings. HOW DARE THOSE FEMINAZIS LET MEN THINK IT’S OKAY TO NOT BE A CONTROLLING ROBOT!

3) I’m thinking the non-fat latte and plastic fork/salad bar references were the humor they’re referring to. HA HA HA sofunnycan’tstoplaughing!

Although there are some men who respect this campaign, such as “MJM” over at the blog Parental Alienation. He shared some illuminating words:

to wear with dockers

Most marketing companies target females and in so doing have no difficulty in showing men as bumbling idiots living with the competent, super wife (proxy mommy) who does most of the buying and household management. The Marxist victimfemis have gotten their knickers in a bonnet over it and will be screeching sexism to the UN High Commission on Progressive Speaking and Political Correctness. (In case you are an ill informed femi that was sarcasm – the organization is fictional but metaphorical.)… Its almost as though everywhere men are ensconced they drink their Lattes at the behest of some invisible curtain of Feminist Political Correctness hanging over them that has taken their family jewels and done something to them that is not in keeping with good breeding. I’ll buy some more Dockers, I’ve been a fan for a very long time, and be glad of the chutzpa to target men as the buyers not the “super woman” we see portrayed in commercials and TV sitcoms.

An interesting perspective, to say the least. But as FBomb reader Maren Hanna noticed:

I understand the Ad is meant to be taken lightheartedly, but it does raise some interesting questions. The Ad is obviously discriminatory towards gay men, and those who don’t fit into the norm of masculinity, as well as women. Patriarchy is damaging for men too, because it forces them into tiny boxes. The point is, NOBODY benefits from a gender binary, and this Ad campaign is just an example of how far we must go.

Not only does this ad make some very strange parallels, (what exactly does a plastic fork have to do with being a man?) it discusses progress away from a patriarchal, privileged society as a negative thing. Also, androgyny causes children to misbehave, and cities to crumble?

To contact Levi Strauss & Co. about this lovely ad, click here.

- Julie Z and Maren Hanna

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  • Amy CT @ at 11:49 am, January 13th, 2010

    Wow. That’s disgusting.

    A thoroughly horrific end to a thoroughly horrific day.

    Well done, Levis.

  • Ruth @ at 12:06 pm, January 13th, 2010

    It’s hilarious in it’s stupidity, and really annoying too. I first read about this on The Pursuit of Harpyness.

  • Alex Catgirl @ at 1:03 pm, January 13th, 2010

    I wrote about that last month, after I saw the campaign at the stores.

    Message ad sends: Being stupid, we do not realize that girls and women spend a lot more on clothing than men do, so we are going to hang a giant “He Man Women Haters club” sign on our front door. We don’t want their oestrogen charged, testosterone destroying, cootie infested money!

    Fine, there are plenty of other brands, that cost quite a bit more, that appreciate my business even though my money has cooties :D :D :D

  • Steph @ at 3:03 pm, January 13th, 2010

    I really do think this ad is phenomenally stupid – that’s about all there is to say, really.

    as a side note: when I saw the title for this, I totally thought it would be about androgyny/wearing men’s clothing, both of which are pretty damn awesome.

  • K8 AH @ at 3:36 pm, January 13th, 2010

    Is it so hard to conceive that a strong healthy woman could also help a little old man cross the street?

    The most idiotic part is the guy who claims, “finally an ad targeted at males.” Really? I think most intelligent and self aware “manly men” would be highly insulted by this advertisement. Like…. “What? I can’t both be manly AND enjoy a salad?” This kind of advertising suggests that a “real man” should be a one dimensional moron; which is actually very much like the “bumbling idiots” that are portrayed in sitcoms and other commercials. It is the same damn thing! UGGG dumb-asses! Good god Dockers! Seriously, no matter what spin you put on Khakies, they will never be heroic or epitomize masculinity!

  • Alex F @ at 6:26 pm, January 13th, 2010

    If I was a granny crossing the street and a man asked to help me I’d say, “No thank you, I am perfectly capable of walking across the street.” It’s like they expect elderly women to look at a man’s khakis and say “Please, I do need so much help crossing. And you are DEFINITELY someone who can help me. You manly-man!”

  • Daniela @ at 7:27 pm, January 13th, 2010

    Has anyone come across these t shirts? In NZ they’re sold at the chain store Supre. UGHHH


  • drewsiedrewsie @ at 10:51 pm, January 13th, 2010

    what does a salad and a plastic fork have to do with being manly? is there something so feminine and dainty about a salad to go that i do not understand. if i was eatting a double bacon cheeseburger would levi’s tell me to put down the beef and eat some lettuce or not eat at all? food is food, its not a gender thing.

  • Mary Jane @ at 11:45 pm, January 13th, 2010

    Can I just say that I personally would love a guy who acted like the man described in this ad? I can’t for the life of me understand why other girls wouldn’t. Seriously? I’m sick of opening doors for myself and paying for dinner. Am I capable? Absolutely. Am I a woman? Absolutely. And it’s about time I started being treated like one. I don’t want to be treated like I’m capable, I want to be treated like a woman. That means I want a man who acts like a man.

    To quote The Network of Enlightened Women:

    “…somewhere along the way, men lost their step. Men today NEED to know that women support them and that there is a place in society for a man who ‘wears the pants.'”

    Of course, a reader on their blog commented,

    “I’d make one small change…somewhere along the way, radical feminists decided that they no longer needed men.”

    Oh, and I thought the line about the plastic forks was funny.

  • Melissa @ at 2:24 am, January 14th, 2010

    I really wish people would stop getting over the “bumbling husband/supermom” image like it’s something feminists approve of. Like “Oh, look what feminists have wrought upon the world! I bet they’re soooo smug, sitting around watching men as bumbling idiots on TV…”

    Yeah. right. As if feminists don’t hate that image every bit as much as MRAs do. But no, in their zeal to construct a strawman they can attack, they completely overlook the angle that the “doofy husbands” (to quote Sarah Haskins) are absolved of any and all responsibility for anything, while the women, although they get a more flattering portrayal, perpetuate the myths that women must do everything and be everything to everyone at all times. Yes, it’s an insulting portrayal for men, but it’s a damaging and dangerous portrayal for women. Someone needs to infiltrate every website that makes a claim that the “doofy husband” phenomenon is the fault of feminism and tell them all “DUDES, we hate this as much as you do, quit wasting your breath!”

    Ok, rant over.

  • wildting @ at 8:42 am, January 14th, 2010

    Dumbass ad! Schlocky science! and I wear dockers, women’s dockers. Will definitely rethink that! Six pair in closet; there will likely not be a 7th

    Shame on Levi Strauss. I can’t believe the virulence of this ad–the utter ignorance that it spews.

  • Alex Catgirl @ at 3:07 pm, January 14th, 2010


    No, but anybody who would pay 66 USD for that has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that they have no brains.

  • Mary Jane @ at 7:12 pm, January 14th, 2010

    If feminists claim to accept diversity, why wasn’t my earlier post accepted?

    I know why! Because I didn’t agree that the levi’s ad is horrible. It’s a pity how insecure some are in their beliefs that they don’t want their audience to see/hear other opinions.

  • Julie Z @ at 10:07 pm, January 14th, 2010

    @Mary Jane
    I wasn’t trying to hide your comment, the fbomb does accept all opinions. I have to approve all comments from new posters and had a lot of homework last night. Sorry, they’re both up now.

  • sangetencre @ at 11:36 am, January 15th, 2010

    Mary Jane it’s fine to want specific qualities in a romantic partner.

    But the point is: those qualities do not inherently belong to men or women.

    They’re described as being “masculine” or “feminine” because of the way our society has evolved and the way people continue to push the idea that men act one way and women act another and that’s just how it is–when the truth is that we act the way we do, in part, because of socialization.

    For instance, boys are told from a young age that they shouldn’t cry or that crying is what sissies or girls do. So it becomes unacceptable for boys and men to cry.

    Because crying is designated as being weak or feminine. And masculinity is defined by being…not feminine, essentially.

    Men acting like men and women acting/being treated like women are socially circumscribed.

    They’re limiting.

    They’re damaging on an individual and societal level because they they put both men and women into boxes or up on pedestals.

    And that’s why we take umbrage with this ad.

  • David @ at 9:57 am, January 16th, 2010

    The ad is an insult to men and holds the old idea of manhood up as a joke. The ad is aimed at women; as most ads are. Women make over 75% of all purchases and are even the largest purchasers of Dockers. Levi doesn’t waste it’s ad money on men!

  • Samuel W. @ at 2:57 pm, January 16th, 2010

    Note the line “disco by disco”. Looks like more proof as to just how nonmusical the whole “disco sucks” jihad was, and how it had about 100% more to do about white male suburban rockers against gay, Puerto Rican and black men than about musicians against drum machines. Another thing of note is how the ad’s bizarre text reminds me of nonsense spam emails I used to get, often headed by words like “There was a half-starve nurse maid” or something like that. What a wonderful advert, Levi’s! You made an AHEM…genius advert that reminds me of nonsense spam email.

  • PatriarchySlayer @ at 9:29 pm, January 17th, 2010

    @David, I agree that the ad is awful. But I’m curious if you can tell me if men aren’t spending money on men’s clothes, who is? Are we saying that men don’t have as much clothes as women do, or that women are buying men’s clothes for them?

    Does that mean that if the man is single that his mother is still buying him clothes?
    I guess I’m a little confused by this because most of the men in my life are really well clothed. So if it’s not their girlfriends or mothers, they must be buying their own clothes.
    Shopping isn’t just for women anymore. Help me out guys? Who’s buying your clothes?

  • David @ at 9:53 am, January 20th, 2010

    Yes, women buy most clothes for men. First it’s the mothers, then girl friends and family, (Birthday- Christmas), and finally by wives, daughters, and grand daughters. Certainly men buy a percentage of their own clothes and there is a short time, when a man is single, that he buys most of his on clothes. A short time, after which most men are married. I hope you don’t see this as a bad thing; its life, and love, and family.
    Women make about 85% of all purchases in the US. Ads aimed at men just don’t work for most items.
    So, if you want your boyfriend or husband to be the kind of man that you claim to struggle against, while he foolishly wears the proof of your belief, -then buy him some Dockers. Because we all know that gender equality is tied up in a pair of pants.

  • Maren @ at 3:58 pm, January 27th, 2010


    I’m sorry but this patriarchal heteronomative comment is totally crap. I know plenty of men who are capable of buying their own clothes, and those who believe clothes are an expression of their own personality.
    I’m sure there are men out there who’s wives and girlfriends buy clothes for them, but that is not the case for all men. And all Women have interests other than shopping.
    Also, how does this sexist ad appeal to women? Please explain this to me.
    I have a hard time trusting the credibility of your statistics when they change from post to post, and aren’t cited.

  • David @ at 1:40 am, January 30th, 2010

    OK, no more shaky statistics, no more looking beyond the obvious.
    You seem to know a lot about men and I assume that you naturally know a lot about women. Even if I am a little bit right, I could also be mostly wrong. You’re smart, you’re educated and you know what you are talking about.

  • David @ at 1:27 am, February 8th, 2010

    After viewing the Super Bowl Ads, I now agree that the advertisment is aimed at men.
    It’s such a shift in the industry that I’m not sure what to make of it.

  • The Super Bowl and the “Mancession” « from the rib? @ at 3:01 pm, February 8th, 2010

    […] is the fact that they are trying to appeal to men who feel emasculated. (Similar to Dockers’ “Wear the Pants” campaign) . They’re saying: men, you’ve been forced into situations that have taken away your […]

  • David @ at 9:54 am, March 13th, 2010

    I’m not sure what to make of your […] response but I do know that advertising, at these levels, can be very, very expensive. It is not something that isn’t thought out. So, unless there is a huge population of men who feel this emasculation you speak of, it’s a waste of ad money.
    Levi’s ads are generally about independence and individualism for both men and women. This ad represents a shift in style for sure, but I’m not sure if their overall messages are so different, but why aim at just men if the numbers aren’t there.
    They may have wanted and accepted a backlash from feminist because this would promote outward through blogs like yours.
    You wouldn’t fall for that would you?

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