Levi's has taken the unusual step of enlisting a PR firm to help in its fight against piracy in Latin America.
Burson-Marsteller aims to help the firm rejuvenate the prestige of its brand and educate the public about the economic and social impact of piracy.
Typically, the fight against piracy in Latin America revolves around public affairs: lobbying local government to adopt and enforce harsher penalties for the pirates, and financing campaigns to discover the perpetrators.
But Levi's Strauss de Mexico and B-M have decided to take the battle into the consumer arena.
'There are a lot of consequences of piracy,' said Lorena Andrade, B-M client leader for Levi Strauss. 'But one of the worst consequences is the damage it does to a brand's image. The fact that around 17% of the Levi's sold in Mexico are low quality imitations, creates a serious image problem for the brand.'
Levi Strauss de Mexico, which captures 19% of the country's jeans market, estimates that more than 600,000 cheap imitations are sold in Mexico every year.
Reina Gumez, director of human resources at Levi Strauss de Mexico said: 'Piracy damages the prestige and image of Levi's. We will counteract this negative impact through a consumer education campaign.'
B-M's late 1998 proposal to Levi Strauss involved two key strategies.
First, rejuvenate the brand by targeting the youth market. Second, the agency recommended creating an alliance with other companies in the private sector that could join forces in the fight against piracy.
The campaign - to run throughout 1999 - involves events such as jeans-decorating contests at high schools, traveling exhibits of still art made by university students with Levi's jeans, and an 'In Touch Tour' featuring models with nude torsos donning Levi's jeans, and having their bodies painted in popular bars.
For the private sector alliance, Burson-Marsteller has attracted a small group of companies who will work with Levi's to counter piracy. The firms include Microsoft, Disney and Reebok.