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Levi’s Ad Pulled from Channel One Due to Objection from Detroit School

March 9, 1989

NEW YORK (AP) _ A Levi’s jeans commercial has been pulled from Channel One, the daily TV news show launched this week in six schools, because Detroit school officials found it sexually suggestive, program creators said Wednesday.

The decision to pull the ad comes as the project begins a 25-show test amid complaints from educators about the appropriateness of TV commercials in classrooms.

The 30-second Levi’s ad, which previously was on commercial television, showed scenes with young people, including a boys’ choir, several youngsters dancing and a couple walking away afterwards.

Robin Oden, principal at Mumford High School in Detroit, said four of the eight people who reviewed the program before it was aired in classrooms on Monday felt the ad was sexually suggestive.

Oden said although he had the choice of not running the program, he ran it anyway because it was the first day of the test and a big media contingent was on hand to write about it.

But he said he told officials of Whittle Communications Ltd., the Knoxville, Tenn.-based media company that developed Channel One, that he wouldn’t air the ad any more.

Bill Gubbins, a Whittle official who was in Detroit that day, said he assured Oden the ad would not be repeated.

″This is a test and one of the things we are learning about is how broad or how narrow the sensitivities are going to be in the individual schools,″ he said. ″We wanted to make sure they felt their concerns were being addressed.″

Dan Chew, marketing manager at Levi Strauss & Co. in San Francisco, said Wednesday his company and its ad agency were notified there was a problem with the ad. He said it is one of four commercials the company planned to rotate during the test.

″We have made no changes to that plan. We’ve heard nothing from anyone about it, and until that request comes in formally, we will stick with our schedule,″ he said.

Levi Strauss is one of eight advertisers signed up for the test. Others are Procter & Gamble’s Head & Shoulders shampoo, Wrigley’s gum, Warner-Lambert breath mints and Gillette shaving products.

Sara Fortune, a spokesman for Whittle, said she was unaware of any other complaints from test schools about the ads.

Whittle has given each school $50,000 in televisions, video recording equipment and a satellite dish to receive the 12-minute news program each day. Each show will contain up to two minutes of advertising.

Several education groups, including the National Parent-Teacher Association and the National Association of Secondary School Principals, have called the commercials an unwarranted intrusion by business into the schools.

But students and teachers who have seen the program expressed few reservations about the ads and said they liked a news show targeted to teens, including stories such as how Soviet teen-agers live.

Oden himself said even though he wasn’t happy with the first Levi’s commercial, he was pleased with the first three shows.

″The information they give to the kids is outstanding. The students have told me, ‘This news show is not boring.’ That’s the general feeling the youngsters have about watching the program,″ he said.

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