Dockers Wear The Pants

Levi Strauss is raising the stakes on gender discourse with “Wear The Pants”, a campaign promoting Dockers khakis for men. Online at, the campaign begins with a Christmas tie-in, suggesting a return to traditional masculine stereotypes with phrases such as “Hang Mistletoe Pants”, “String the Lights Pants” and “Carve the Turkey Pants”. The Man-ifesto, expressed online and in print advertisements, spells out the call of manhood.

Dockers Wear The Pants

Dockers Wear The Pants

A “Man-ifesto” posted on begins, “Once upon a time, men wore the pants, and wore them well. Women rarely had to open doors and little old ladies never had to cross 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 dirty. It’s time to answer the call of manhood. It’s time to wear the pants.”

Dockers Wear The Pants

Dockers Wear The Pants ad

Dockers Wear The Pants ad

Dockers Wear The Pants ad

Radio, print, poster and online advertising are being supplemented with social media including Facebook, Flickr and Twitter (now discontinued it seems). A set of TV commercials will be launched at the Super Bowl in February 2010.

Dockers Wear The Pants

Dockers Wear The Pants

“The category is in decline for a reason. Khaki brands have been stuck in the 20th century with little in the way of new product news for the last 10 to 15 years. We are going to change that,” said Jim Calhoun, President, Dockers® brand. “Our goal is to make men love their khakis again. Khakis are what Dockers® does best, and with the introduction of new fits, styles and finishes, we believe we will appeal to the modern man.”

“The intent of the campaign is to put forth a new definition of masculinity, one that embraces strength and sensitivity and appeals to men who can change a tire AND a diaper,” said Jennifer Sey, Global VP of Marketing. “We’re not trying to shame men. We want to make them laugh at themselves and at the state of manhood. And, at the same time, encourage them to dress up, man-up and embody today’s new definition of masculinity.”


The campaign was developed at DraftFCB, San Fancisco, by copywriter Desmond LaVelle, art directors Julie Scelzo and Dana Johnston. “Face It You’re A Man” was written by freelance copywriter Dimitri Ehrlich. The online ads were produced by Razorfish. Typography and design was by Craig Ward and Julian Quale and Am I Collective. Photography was by Kevin O’Brien.

  • Deux Doppel

    What’s missing is the historical evidence that khakis were at some point associated with masculinity. As in khakis worn by (male) soldiers.

  • I’d like to add that the holiday home page screenshots you published (all the screenshots with GIVE THE GIFT OF KHAKI on them) were created by the creative team at Silverlign Group, Inc. in Campbell, SJ.

  • B

    Dockers of Levi Strauss wear-the-pants ad manages to offend and insult men, women, children, seniors, healthful eating habits in a culture that slathers itself in fast food, and all other intelligent life forms.
    Nothing like insulting your targeted market.
    Manyly men usually avoid dockers, thats what jeans are for. Most of america can paint a picture of the man who wears dockers and men who get their hands dirty aint it. Clearly the reason for this hard sell. There are so very many things fatally wrong with this ad. Its insulting, offensive, its preachy and to whom??!! I must ask the person who created this ad or WORSE, the one who approved it, maybe Jennifer Say VP of global mrktg there who is hoping to inspire men to be men by buying a product, WHAT planet do you live on??!! Dockers has just boarded the bus to victorian-ville where its acceptable to beat your wife as long as the stick is only 1.5 in. in diamiter. Advertising has been a blight on american culture since the 1970s forward getting more loathsome by the year. The industry is so full of itself. Its always about you and not the customer. You don’t listen, look, or hear. This industry just cranks out one piece of insipid crap after another. Advertising is shoved down our throat at every turn. Excellent advertising stands out. It is incredibly rare. Its usually simple, sticks to illustrating the product without driveling copy and honestly attempts to serve the purpose the product was created for. If you have to do more than that, you’ve already lost the game. If Dockers has to do this kind of advertising they must be in trouble. Whoever approved THIS ad, should be shown the door. This ad should be relegated to the advertising tomb called, How NOT to advertise. It’s an insensitive,rude, offensive failure. ~I won’t be e-mailing Dockers to complain. Its too late for that. I’ll be calling Corporate headqrtrs of the stores I shop at that carry Dockers and the magazines I read that might put this ad in to complain about a company that approves this kind of advertising. I was told about it by friends who plan to boycott the product. I will tell friends and so on.

    • my 2 cents

      I bet the people who buy these pants are the women who buy their guys clothes….

  • Jordan

    This ad is refreshing, inviting, unapologizing in the best way, and does what needs to be done on many levels in our day and age: it gives men permission. I’m tempted to buy a pair of Dockers right now, not because I need them to man up, but to reward Levi for its boldness. Clearly, Levi knew the ad would draw fire and that was intentional. It was marketing, etc… I get that. But nonetheless, the ad is appealing and its audacious message too true.

  • P

    @B – a thing is often offensive because its truth hits so close to home. One is offended when he/she is confronted with something is brought to light which is true, but to which he does not wish to admit. Indeed, in our society’s strive to step out of the “Victorian” culture to which you refer, it is made quite clear that we have overstepped. While you believe that advertising is getting worse and worse, I believe that the gender line is become more blurry by the minute. A culture of emasculated men is not only tolerated, but promoted in media, advertising, education, “civil rights,” etc. I contend the the Dockers ad is more than warranted. It is, as a previous poster mentioned, a breath of fresh air. Nowhere did the ad encourage Victorianesque chauvinism, but rather, it rightly encourages men to be masculine, rather than gender-neutral or effeminate.

    Your being “offended” is irrelevant, and frankly, it doesn’t matter. Freedom allows them to advertise as they wish; it also allows you to choose not to patronize their business. Fine. But I am pleased to finally see a company willing to toss false ideals of political correctness completely out the window. Three cheers for this Dockers ad campaign!

  • Natalie

    Well, let the men wear the Dockers. I’m not buying any anymore. Clearly they’re not seeking the 25-35 female demographic, because in fact everyone knows, grrrrls wear the pants. But not dockers. No more, no how.

  • emily

    i’m a female and i congratulate dockers on this bold advertising campaign. it does not demean women in the least (unlike dr. pepper 10’s new commercial), but rather calls men to display their masculinity in the most positive way (helping a little old lady cross the street, decorate for Christmas, etc.).

  • Hector

    I might confess that I copied the first picture, printed and hung it on my office. Looks better than the typical inspiration photo. Totally tired of androgyny.