Willie Nelson for John Varvatos Fall 2013 Ad Campaign

Posted on July 10, 2013

At first we were all, “Willie Nelson? For John ‘sunglasses indoors and a pinkie ring’ Varvatos?” But the results speak for themselves:


Willie Nelson appears in the John Varvatos Fall 2013 ad campaign with his sons Lukas Nelson, 24, and Micah Nelson, 23, who are also musicians; shot in Des Moines, in the historic Salisbury House museum, by photographer Danny Clinch.

He may not be a fashion icon but that is a FACE. And a face worth photographing.

The PR-speak:

“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. Willie is a true American icon, and it runs deep in the bloodline,” says John Varvatos.

Varvatos’ aesthetic is very masculine-focused or from the point of view of the male, so this campaign works very well on that level. It’s oddly touching and paternal, even as it sells expensive sunglasses to us.






[Photo/Video Credit: John Varvatos]

    • Mismarker

      HO.LEE.SHIT. Work it, Willie.

    • Diego!

      Amazing campaign!!! I loved it! All of them look amazing and Willie’s shot with the sunglasses is award worthy!

    • Pennymac

      I believe this is the most awesome campaign I’ve seen in a while. Willie has a spirit that is proudly individual. His sons are quite attractive, as well.

      • Lucía Gavello

        It’s got loads of personality, which I love. His face is amazing and his sons are very handsome, they are wearing the hell out of those suits too.

      • NC_Meg

        I was wondering who their mother is because wow, I did not expect Willie Nelson’s sons to look like that. (Nothing against Willie but again…wow.)

    • gabbilevy

      Well, helLO there, Nelson boys men!

    • laurabk

      They shot this in Des Moines’ Salisbury House – my love for TLo, my hometown, and Willie have suddenly crashed into one another!

      • Mismarker

        Hahaha! My thoughts, exactly!

    • homofascist

      The “Willie Nelson First Aid” coffee mug with the marijuana leaf – I NEED that! This is awesome…

    • frannyprof

      Dayum! You should post this again on Sausage Friday. And every Sausage Friday after that forever and ever amen.

      • makeityourself

        Props to my man Randy Travis.

        • frannyprof

          I’ve had that song stuck in my head all afternoon… Poor Randy T.

    • Ashleigh


    • max mustermann

      Every time I see his name pop up somewhere I wonder, Willie? Here? And then of course, Willie! There’s nowhere this man doesn’t fit in.

    • decormaven

      Smart move by the John V group. Wilie is an icon; glad he’s getting his due.

    • Nonmercisansfacon

      In the words of Donna Meagle, “They can all get it”!

    • TSkot

      icon. legend. one of a kind.

    • random_poster

      Whomever came up with the idea of featuring these three together deserves a bonus. It’s fantastic. Never in my life would I have thought of Willie Nelson being the face of a sunglasses ad.

    • alyce1213

      This beautiful campaign makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

    • MilaXX

      The glasses are just “meh” but the ad really works.

      • Alexandra Pimenta

        Actually, I kinda love the style on the first picture. There’s a very vintage feel to it that I’ve been looking for, for quite a while. Well, I probably couldn’t afford it, but I still find it nice and cool. Lol.

    • zenobar


    • http://dontmakeitlikeimdumb.blogspot.com/ annabelle archer

      Brilliant. Is all that I can say.

    • LaSylphide

      Willie is proof you don’t have to be jazz musician to be cool.

    • Jennifer Bober

      The black and white was the perfect choice here. Wow!! Totally impressed. That first shot is absolutely spectacular.

    • formerlyAnon

      I am not surprised. Decades back when he was just coming on the scene in Texas he showed a lot of business sense (including linking up with beer distributors.)

      The black & white is very effective. Possibly that is what we should all move to when pink scarves over the light fixtures are no longer enough.

    • Anathema_Device

      Wow. Those are arresting photos. Love this so much. What a brilliant move–both for Varvatos and Nelson.

    • HeatherMcIlrath

      I want to marry a Nelson son.

    • quiltrx

      I ADORE Willie Nelson! Singing with feeling the way he does is rare these days. He’s a treasure, he looks like the most elegant version of himself, and this is a very cool campaign. I’d be willing to bet it will sell some of these $$ sunglasses to those who didn’t know they wanted them until now.

    • Adrianna Grężak

      I love that the sons were involved. I can imagine some jaded responses, but this is very beautiful compared to the usual sexualized editorials we see.

      • marlie

        Instead of “Sex, Sex, SEX,” this campaign gives us “family and legacy and music that speaks to your soul.” LOVE.

        • oohsparkley!

          I happen to think Willie Nelson is SEXY.

          • marlie

            He may be sexy, but the ad doesn’t throw sex (in a more literal sense) in your face, a la scantily-clad models, lots of skin, “intimate” poses, etc.

            • oohsparkley!

              I knew what you meant. I just took the opportunity to declare my & my loins’ love for his authenticity.

    • Jacqueline Wessel

      The reflections on the lens of the sunglasses are a nice detail. They show you what the eyes behind the glasses are looking at and they visually break up the blackness of the lens. Plus they are the smallest shapes in the composition and create a strong black/white contrast which helps the viewer really see the glasses which are what they’re selling. Nice.

    • Alexandra Pimenta

      Advertising has become so formulaic, that it’s quite hard to shake it off the cynicism and get a real feeling of wonder. This is a true gem.

    • MemHey

      Well done, you!

    • marlie

      He looks great. I love how the photographer embraced the wrinkles on his face; you can tell that he has some interesting stories to tell from his lifetime.

    • sk8tfan

      My first thought was “Willie Nelson, sunglasses? There’s a reason they haven’t done that before.” My second thought was “Willie Nelson, sunglasses! Why haven’t they done that before?”

    • travelingcat

      Willie! Love these. Wow, Carmen in all her fabulousity yesterday and Willie owning it today. Thank you TLo for sharing.

    • ankali

      A little weird to see him hawking sunglasses, but as my husband says, “Weed’s not free.”

      He really does look great, though. Awesome photos.

    • TLJezebel

      So sorry, but I am not familiar with Mr. Varvatos, I don’t care. i love these pics. I will buy everything. Mr.Clinch is a genius!

    • WittyCism

      Loved it!

    • mmebam

      Welp, time for me to scrape together all my pennies and buy some shades for mbam.

      Varatos 1, mmebam 0

    • Nicole Little

      LOVE the video. He really is the genuine article, isn’t he?

    • KayEmWhy

      Love it! WERQ!

    • ashtangajunkie

      Brilliant. I absolutely love this, especially that first shot.

    • Michelle Wilson

      My first concert experience was a Willie Nelson outdoor show in the late 70’s. I was just a kid dragged there by my mother and grandmother but the topless women swinging their bandana’s up front and the good ole’ boys trying to pass my grandmother a roach clip left lasting impressions on me, as did hearing The Red Headed Stranger from start to finish most Sunday mornings for several years during that same time. I don’t remember a time when Willie wasn’t part of my life and I love how he continues to embody Americana and sweet, sweet rebellion.

      • meowing

        Hey, we might have been at the same concerts! However, I was more your Mom’s age, probably. He’s a treasure.

    • Lisa M. (ReVoir) Kramp

      I wish all ad campaign were this classy.

    • hmariec19

      This is just too fantastic for words.

    • http://marshmallowjane.com/ marshmallowjane

      Much living in his face and hair. I commend John Varvatos for this campaign.

      • MoHub

        John Varvatos is a very wise man.

    • appliquer

      Awesome video!

    • MoHub

      Willie can do no wrong in my book.

    • DTLAFamilies

      When I first saw this I thought, wow, Willie really holds his own with those models, and then I read the caption. Willie produces gorgeous boys (no doubt with help from gorgeous women).

    • Jaeda Laurez

      Great photos- they’ve got character and life behind them.

    • crash1212

      Great face. Fine looking family.

    • Danielle L


    • CurbGirl

      Thanks TLo for posting this breath of fresh air!

    • NoveltyRocker

      That non-logo is dragging this down. Nice photos though.

    • Hildegerd Haugen

      Wow, the man still got it.

    • Just Me

      These photos look like the print ad for a tv show I would watch the HELL out of, for real. Dad and sons take on all comers in the wild west or big city that just seems like the wild west.

    • akprincess72

      Totally unexpected & totally awesome.

    • Silly Grrl

      I saw Iggy Pop in a Varvatos special edition of some car. Crazy stuff, but I like his choices!

    • lesmaha


    • Kawena

      Wow. I rarely watch the videos of these shoots, but I am very glad I watched this one. That scarred guitar is amazing, and it took me a couple of seconds to see Willie was actually playing it. Plus, the shot of his hands was beautiful.

    • PeaceBang

      DANG, that is the essence of total cool. I want a framed copy. Absolutely fantastic campaign. The shoes! The room! The chairs! The MENS!

    • lilyvonschtupp

      Willie, my man. The only person allowed to smoke weed in Texas!