In the UK, jeans could encourage riots. And not just when Macy’s holds a sale.
Levi’s created a commercial recently as a part of their “Go Forth” campaign that features scenes from protests which some said were too close to resembling the London riots that have swept parts of Britain this week. Youngsters in tight jeans were seen with smoke bombs, participating in marches and defying a line of riot police officers.
After facing criticism that the ads might encourage more rioting, the spots were canceled in the England “out of sensitivity for what is happening in the UK,” according to a Levi’s spokesman.
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The scenes, which were accompanied by images of teens in loving embraces, playing in the wind and partying in clubs, were never meant to advocate for violence.
“While ‘Go Forth’ is about embodying the energy and events of our time, it is not about any specific movement or political theme; rather, it’s about optimism, positive action and a pioneering spirit” a Levi’s spokesman said.
Levi’s didn’t help their case much by including words from a poem by Charles Bukowski entitled “The Laughing Heart.” The majority of the poem’s text mirrors the youthful optimism and hope that Levi’s sought to capture in the scenes. However, the opening two lines read, “your life is your life / don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.”
It may have been bad timing, but the controversy is probably part of the reason the video on YouTube has over 350,000 hits. The commercial can still be seen on YouTube, Facebook, and on Levi’s website.
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Zachary Cohen is a contributor for TIME. Find him on Twitter at @Zachary_Cohen. You can also continue the discussion on TIME‘s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.