by: David Lipke
Willie Nelson is the latest musician to take the spotlight in the John Varvatos advertising campaign. The 80-year-old country music legend appears in the fall ads with his youngest sons, Lukas Nelson, 24, and Micah Nelson, 23, who are also professional musicians.“His clothes look and feel good on your skin and are made for every man — and his sons,” said Nelson of Varvatos’ designer duds. Known for his populist views and championing of progressive causes, Nelson previously appeared in ads for the somewhat more egalitarian Gap brand and sang a song for a Chipotle commercial.
The more upscale Varvatos images were shot in Des Moines, in the historic Salisbury House museum, by Danny Clinch, who has photographed the previous 18 John Varvatos campaigns while working with creative agency Yard. A three-minute film, also shot at Salisbury House and featuring the Nelson clan, will make its debut on johnvarvatos.com on Tuesday. In it, the trio perform the song “Still Is Still Moving to Me,” intercut with interviews where they discuss music and style influences.
The print buy for the campaign includes GQ, Esquire, Details, Vanity Fair. M, Fantastic Man, VMan and L’Uomo Vogue. An outdoor buy includes New York and San Francisco bus shelters; Los Angeles and Miami billboards, and taxi tops in Las Vegas. Boston and Toronto.
“In all the iconic music ad campaigns we have shot over the last eight years, I have never been so moved as I was working with Willie Nelson and his sons,” said Varvatos. “Willie is a true American icon, and it runs deep in the bloodline.”
The Nelsons join a long parade of musicians who have appeared in the designer’s campaigns, including Jimmy Page, Gary Clark Jr., Green Day, The Roots, Dave Matthews, Perry Farrell, Iggy Pop and ZZ Top.