Redmond's PlayNetwork teams up with Levi's to produce media program for retailer

PlayNetwork in Redmond has teamed up with Levi Strauss & Co. to curate music for the company
PlayNetwork in Redmond has teamed up with Levi Strauss & Co. to curate music for the company's stores around the world.
— image credit: Courtesy of Levi Strauss & Co.

A recently renewed partnership with Levi Strauss & Co. has one company in Redmond leaving its mark all over the world.

PlayNetwork in Redmond has been working with the clothing company to curate music to be played in Levi's stores in the United States and abroad.

According to its website, PlayNetwork focuses on creating "immersive entertainment experiences for brands worldwide."

John Crooke (left), vice president of global brand development for PlayNetwork, said they do this by creating a dialogue with the companies they work with to explore what music means to the brand and its customers.

"It should embody the spirit (of the brand)…It's not a casual endeavor," he said about the process they go through in developing music programming.

Crooke said in addition to discussing music, they will discuss everything from decor and lighting to the use of different textures and colors in a store to come up with playlists. This is because all of this has an impact on how people respond to a brand.

"We do all of this collectively," he said. "It's a process…It is this living, breathing process between the brand and PlayNetwork."

Music is distributed to stores on a monthly basis, but playlists are never wiped clean as some songs may roll over to the next month.

Chad Hinson, senior director of global creative for Levi's, said music is a very important part of their company and they take the process very seriously.

"It's not just about playing music in the store," he said. "Music is part of our brand's DNA."

Hinson said one of the first steps they take in selecting music is defining their consumer base to figure out what music is relevant to them. But that is not always easy.

"It's such a broad consumer mix," he said.

Hinson (left) described their customers as makers and doers who are actively involved in culture and when creating a track list, they wanted to make sure they tapped into artists who shared these qualities. As a result, the Levi's playlists feature artists from various eras, from the 1920s to the 1970s and 1980s and beyond. Hinson said the goal is to play artists who create a timeless sound for their company.

Crooke added that artist styles and genres also run the gamut and could include anything from 1940s Calypso to the blues to present-day garage-band rock.

Hinson said their music list is not about having the latest chart toppers; nor is it about having obscure artists who are "too cool for school." He said it is about creating a familiar sound that engages customers in the spirit of community and being together.

The music programming PlayNetwork developed with Levi's has already been rolled out in stores in the United States. In the Pacific Northwest, there are two Levi's outlet stores — one in Tulalip and one in Auburn.

Levi's also has stores in Europe, Asia and Latin America and the company is planning to roll out the PlayNetwork music programming soon.

Hinson said while their stores are located all over the world, their music selection will not vary too much from one geographical region to another.

"The idea is we're always trying to project that Levi's sound," he said, though he added they do try to bring a bit — about 20 percent — of local flavor to their playlists as they want to be globally consistent, but regionally relevant.

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