Guest post: How iSpyLevis tapped into Twitter

After observing the growing following iSpyLevis is gaining on Twitter, Mumbrella invited Kat Thomas, from PR agency One Green Bean, to write this guest post setting out the thinking behind it.

Last Friday wasn’t a typical day for me. I dropped my jeans in public. Several times. In the sheer randomness stakes, it’s probably up there with the day I found myself stood with a handful of live ammunition on the wrong side of security in LA airport. But we’ll save that for another post. This time, the story begins with our client Levi’s and a shared point of view that consumer engagement and entertainment go hand in hand.

My world, like many of you reading this, revolves around influence. My job is to make people want stuff. If you’re anything like me, you’re probably also an avid consumer of stuff in your spare time. And when you want something… be it the latest mobile phone, new runners for the gym, a gift for a 14 year old ska revival enthusiast… then more often than not, you’ll seek an opinion, or better still a recommendation, from someone or some place you trust.

My role will always be to create content for these trusted sources, often by providing it to journalists to share with their readers and viewers. But whilst editorial still plays a big role in influencing consumer behaviour, it’s the shift in how people consume information that has caused a critical step change in how we do business. Today virtually everyone does their research on Google and a hell of a lot of people now look to their online social networks for advice. It therefore makes sense that we’re placing content in places where consumers are consuming information.

More important than ever is the need to ensure the content we generate will motivate people to tell someone else. ‘Have you seen this?’ are the four most important words a consumer could utter. Since I was first introduced to the press release and its one time accomplice the fax machine, it’s become very evident that getting the ‘talkability’ credentials right will turn average campaigns into exceptional ones. The secret? Well it’s not rocket science. It’s about entertainment. Brands have been doing entertaining stuff for a long time, and generally they’re the ones that you remember to tell your mates about.

Which is how this initiative for Levi’s was born. It was clear that to reconnect this iconic brand with Australian youth and attempt to reignite their mutual love affair, we needed to create entertaining content that could live comfortably in their social media sphere and get people talking. Our channel of choice? Twitter, the social network de jour.

I confess that I was an early Facebook convert (what’s not to love –  means of exchanging banal banter with friends in other continents over a few pints of virtual warm beer) but I initially eyed Twitter with scepticism. However I dutifully rolled up my sleeves and got stuck in. It didn’t take long to work out two things. Twitter offers massive, untapped potential for marketers. But it also gives unenlightened brands a very public platform to commit corporate harakiri by ignoring the rules of social engagement, as defined by the 37 million Twitter folk. With great power comes great responsibility, as Peter Parker would say.

So iSpyLevi’s was developed by a bunch of unique people who understand this crazy, complex and often fickle world, a team that sits across One Green Bean and our sister agencies. You wouldn’t have the dentist’s receptionist undertake your root canal, and similarly, I think it’s important, no make that bloody essential, to have people with specific know-how develop and execute campaigns in the inner gut of social networks.

The central idea – to use Twitter to send out clues to a location. The first person to get there and ask “Are they Levi’s?” wins the jeans.

So back to dropping my jeans. I replaced one of the bright young things on the streets for a day to get my head round how the kids are responding to iSpyLevis. In six weeks it’s engaged well over a thousand followers and allowed us to connect with over 300,000 people so far. Feels impressive but hard to quantify. What did I learn? Well I saw first hand the mind blowing effects of using humour to engage the most disengaged of audiences. And I discovered that dropping your pants in a Starbucks is curiously liberating. My nan says my mum got sent home from school for flashing her bum once. It must be in the genes.

Kat Thomas is the managing director of One Green Bean. Mumbrella hopes that her client doesn’t shout at her because we changed all of her LEVI’S® references to Levi’s


  1. Tiphereth Gloria
    21 Jul 09
    10:12 pm

  2. ISpyLevis is one of the best Twitter promotions to date. I wrote a post on it at the beginning of June

  3. A Littlemore
    21 Jul 09
    10:16 pm

  4. “In six weeks it’s engaged well over a thousand followers and allowed us to connect with over 300,000 people so far. Feels impressive but hard to quantify.”

    Can this claim be further explained for me and other slow people. 1,000 followers leads to connecting with 300,000. Is this some metric around 1,000 ppl following you who have on average 300 friends hence put 2 and 2 together and get 300,000?

  5. Ash
    21 Jul 09
    10:24 pm

  6. I thought this campaign was very interesting and fun and if I had an Iphone would have chased then down for some free jeans.

    Reminds me of the radio promotions where you had to find the Today FM fugitive but with a new Twitter twist.

    Nice to see such simple ideas getting traction. So simple you wish you had done it.

  7. mumbrella
    21 Jul 09
    10:31 pm

  8. Thanks for your comment A Littlemore,

    There’s slightly more detail in the embedded video – they’ve come to the number based on retweets of iSpyLevis messages etc.


    Tim – Mumbrella

  9. Paul
    21 Jul 09
    10:42 pm

  10. Amazing idea. Great post.

  11. Kirsty Gilford
    22 Jul 09
    1:05 am

  12. Tiphereth Gloria that’s me in your blog post.

    I ran from Elizabeth Bay in high heeled boots for those jeans. Approaching strangers in Kings Cross to ask ‘are they wearing Levi’s’ was quite scary.

    I think this is a great campaign and has really caught on since it started. I’ve noticed other brands taking a similar approach since @ispylevis.

    @Projectrunwayoz did a similar competition recently before Project runway season 2 started They posted cryptic clues on twitter and their followers in Sydney and Melbourne would have to find a girl with a large pink/blue box. The prizes were designer clothing, usually one off pieces.

    I tried really hard but unfortunately I didn’t win that time.

  13. KimberleyL
    22 Jul 09
    9:07 am

  14. Simple but effective. Just like Twitter. Brilliant promotional use of the online social network in every sense of the concept of ‘online social network’. And I won jeans. I’m the overly excited person hugging the chick then phoning the office to tell them where we ran off to….

  15. Simon
    22 Jul 09
    9:49 am

  16. Great use of Twitter when many brands just don’t know what to do with it yet. Better than just tweeting about a new product or posting a link to a website like some do – boring and not really engaging. Just looking at the retweets tells you the level of excitement around this and the lengths people go to to get the Levi’s (not just because people drop their pants either, that’s just a bonus).

  17. Scott Kilmartin
    22 Jul 09
    9:56 am

  18. Great engagement.
    Simplicity in execution.

    Was impressed reading about Tipereth’s initial piece on the Levis campaign.
    It’s a long road back for Levis with that crowd. This was a pretty good start at repositioning.

  19. Tiphereth Gloria
    22 Jul 09
    12:50 pm

  20. Kirsty, its great that you had the chance to win the Levis. It seems like the campaign got the balance just right with the amount of trekking around to find them vs making it too hard and exclusive. I’m sure it makes a great dinner party story too.

  21. Pascal@Host
    22 Jul 09
    2:59 pm

  22. A Littlemore, we’re using our buzz monitoring tool to define the number of unique followers who interacted with iSpyLevis (RT’s and @replies) and can then multiply it with the average number of followers the iSpyLevis followers have. Measuring social media campaigns is very topical this week, isn’t it!

  23. Big Fan - Smart Man
    22 Jul 09
    5:45 pm

  24. Nice work… big fan of the execution, kudos to client to commit.

    300,000 connections from 1250 followers of which a major portion were industry types – WTF – thats a statement that is ignorant !

  25. A Littlemore
    22 Jul 09
    7:16 pm

  26. pascal – do you think that’s a real indication of results though?

    the word ‘connecting’ was thrown around in the post. these numbers seem like ‘old media’ reach figures. just becasue someone could have seen a tweet doesn’t mean they’ve read it.

    don’t mind me … campaign seems good and i spose some measurement is better than none.

  27. Pascal
    22 Jul 09
    9:44 pm

  28. Agree A Littlemore, this reach figure is an attempt to make it comparable to other media. It probably gives us a better sense of scale (unlike the number of 1,400 followers), but it’s no stand-alone measure. We’re looking at it in conjunction with how people engage with the brand in Twitter, general online buzz and sentiment, but also the influence in traditional media.

  29. Tee
    27 Jul 09
    10:06 am

  30. A kiwi voice into the fray. Love this campaign – only client twitter campaign that’s got me talking so far. Great to see a client/agency taking a chance rather than whipping up yet another billboard with a topless 12 year old!

    Reach wise – interesting concept to work out – especially because we know how reliable print’s “readership” is…

    My blog on this here:


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