Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Go Forth

COME my tan-faced children,
Follow well in order, get your weapons ready,
Have you your pistols? have you your sharp-edged axes?
Pioneers! O pioneers!

For we cannot tarry here,
We must march my darlings, we must bear the brunt of danger,
We the youthful sinewy races, all the rest on us depend,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

O you youths, Western youths,
So impatient, full of action, full of manly pride and friendship,
Plain I see you Western youths, see you tramping with the foremost,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

We debouch upon a newer mightier world, varied world,
Fresh and strong the world we seize,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Levi's has been hawking their jeans lately in a series of ads that pair 19th century Walt Whitman verses with images of youthful exuberance. Levi's has never shied away from using art and sex to sell their jeans, having contracted Brad Pitt, Spike Jonze and Michel Gondry to direct and star in their commercials over the years, but this ad campaign feels like a shift in philosophy.

Gone are the preening models, alt-rock soundtrack and sexual underpinnings, the antiquated staples of "edgy" advertising, instead replaced by a campfire and general frolicking. That's not to say there aren't troves of shirtless models, but overlaying a crackly, stirring recording over modern imagery allows it to elicit a feeling of empowerment and timelessness. This ad has feels like the modern day equivalent to the Kodak Carousel ad featured on Mad Men during the first season. Mesmerizing, nostalgic, universal.

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