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Academy Advertising Students Unleash Monster in Union Square

If you were walking around in Union Square on one sunny afternoon last fall, you may have noticed a strange sight: an enormous, four-legged muslin monster prowling menacingly in front of the Levi's store. It walked around, it sat down for breaks, and it created the kind of buzz that only strong advertising pieces can.

The monster was a hit with the public, and many local San Francisco bloggers praised Levi's for this ingenious and weird bit of guerrilla advertising.


Click the Play button to see the Beast at play in Union Square.

However, the monster was not the child of Levi's at all. It was the brainchild of Academy advertising students Matthew Herip and Greg Coffin. They took a large quantity of muslin, some handmade stilts, and a small dose of insanity and whipped up the coolest free ad for Levi's in recent memory. We spoke to Matthew about the beast itself and his time at the Academy:

Where did you get the inspiration for your Levi's Beast project?

Greg and I approached the Levi's project with the concept of finding a unique way to deliver our message so that the target audience will feel entertained, intrigued, and not "advertised" to. We first focused on art that could be constructed from denim, then environmental art, and finally performance art. The Levi's Beast is a combination of urban acrobatics, environmental art, and performance art.

We unleashed the Levi's Beast only once for about an hour and a half in Union Square and yet the media attention has been amazing. This one appearance got great feedback from onlookers as well as listings on over ten blogs. Upon seeing images of the creature online, one blog commenter posted "No movie!! Boo hoo." We must agree that seeing the creature move and interact is the only way to do it justice.

The Levi Beast

Has the project affiliated with Levi's? If so, how would you describe your relationship with Levi's?

Most all the blog listings assume that the sighting was Levi's commissioned when in fact we had no contact with Levi's. We are hopeful that with the success and media attention attained, Levi's might be interested in adopting the creature -- and thus our services!

How do you develop your ideas?

We keep stacks of notebooks with ideas to work on. I only wish every project idea I had could be executed. As an art director/art director team, we are still quite copy-savvy and work together often despite the traditional team pairings of art director and copywriter.

The Levi Beast

Can you give us a sneak peek of anything else you guys have in development?

Our current "secret" project has been in development for some time. Like Levi's, it fits with our ultimate plan: to push advertising further and explore new forms. Unlike the mysterious Levi's sightings, we plan in the future to allow interested parties to trace the project back to both us and the Academy.

How have you enjoyed your time at the Academy?

My time at the Academy has seemed to fly by with some great ads thanks to my instructors' faith and criticisms. We would like to thank those who helped us from other departments, like Stephanie Weaver, the fashion major stylist who helped construct the denim suit. We're also grateful for the freedom to explore the boundaries of conventional advertising. We both can truly say that we love what we do, to the point that the night before we debut a guerrilla idea, or shoot an ad, both of us lie awake anxious like children waiting for Santa.

What are your plans for your artistic and professional future?

We hope to enter the advertising industry here in San Francisco at agencies where we can continue that exploration in an attempt to help mold the magnificent creature that is advertising.

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