NEW YORK: Levi's, the apparel group, is "guided" by data and insights when developing its marketing efforts, but still believes the art of storytelling is the central component to building its brand.

Jennifer Sey, Global CMO of the San Francisco-based denim brand, discussed this topic at the Advertising Research Foundation's (ARF) 2017 Annual Conference.

"How do you create yearning? You don't do that through attribution modelling," she asserted. (For more details, read Warc's exclusive report: Storytelling keep Levi's at the "center of culture".)

"So, we think a lot about the art side. We leverage insights to do that. They guide. They inform us. They don't tell us the answer. They never tell us the full answer. Because what we're out to do is create something far more emotional."

The current "Live in Levi's" campaign, for instance, used various streams of research, including qualitative inspiration, to encapsulate the unique feelings associated with the brand.

"We have similar quotes from people everywhere, all over the world. From Shanghai to Chicago, people tell us stories about the life experiences they had in their Levi's. Which led us to this idea: 'You wear other jeans, you wear other things, but you live your life in Levi's'," said Sey.

Similarly, although Levi's aims to reside at the cultural cutting edge, its advertising is subjected to a careful research process. But, again, this effort is undertaken in service of the story.

"We do several [research] rounds: We do qualitative script testing. We do quantitative copy testing. Sometimes, if we don't get the results that we like, we do another round of quantitative copy testing. And that leads us to the work," she said.

"We will run something like this for over a year. The ad we created in 2015 ran for two years. When you create something that there is a story to, you have the opportunity for it to be much more lasting, because it entertains."

Entertaining consumers and prompting emotional responses, she suggested, is the best way to "build a brand that lasts", as it yields true meaning and relevance with the target audience.

"Data matters, certainly … in terms of giving us those touchpoints along the way to inform the work that we do," Sey told the ARF assembly.

"But, at the end of the day, you've got to move people; you've got to tell stories; you have to create more fans; [and] tell more stories. And that becomes this virtuous cycle, where you then create more fans."

Data sourced from Warc