WASHINGTON: The latest train television commercial by jeans manufacturer Levis has come under a cloud. US' Operation Lifesaver (OL) which is a non-profit rail safety group, and its partners from the highway and rail safety communities have urged Levi Strauss to pull its latest television ad, Horsebecause the commercial encourages risky behaviour around trains.
The ad features a model on a dark horse coming out of a railroad tunnel. Stopping her steed in the middle of the tracks as a train rapidly approaches, she rides directly into the path of a train. Miraculously, the model manages to fly over a multi-car train without a scratch.
This is not the first time that a Levis ad has provoked controversy. Four years ago, Levi produced Trainthat enticed young people to create their own cutoffs on the tracks. Operation Lifesaver President Gerri Hall said, "I don't want to believe that Levi Strauss would intentionally produce an ad that would influence youth to put themselves in harm's way. However, this is exactly what this ad does. It trivialises the dangerous, illegal and all-too-often tragic activity of playing on railroad tracks."
In a letter addressed to Levis, OL has cited US government figures showing more than 5,000 pedestrians have been killed since 1990 while trespassing on railroad tracks and property. Modern trains are quieter than in the past and they cannot stop quickly to swerve to avoid someone on the tracks.
Four years ago, Levis bowed down to protests and developed an edited version of the Trains ad. The US Federal Trade Commission insisted that Levi's edit the portion that demonstrated how to make shorts out of jeans. Their concern was that teens and pre-teens would get on the tracks to mimic the ad.