O Pioneers

From: David Tetzlaff (email suppressed)
Date: Mon Dec 21 2009 - 06:15:31 PST

> yes, my mistake!

Not really. There's a lot of mis-attribution re these ads online.
Several sources credit O Pioneers to Fukanaga, some to McGinley
himself. Then there's the confusion about the "Will Greer" v/o
actually being Whitman, and the Greer/Geer thing. What's interesting
is that this shows a good portion of the audience responds to these
spots in conventional aesthetic terms. A lot of people see these as
more than flack for product - as, well, art. And, as such, they want
to know the artists' identities. Of course, the difficulty of finding
accurate information reflects the corporate origins and purposes of
these things. The true auteur of the spots is the Wieden + Kennedy ad
agency, best known for their Nike ads. The agency explains "Go Forth":

> The campaign is inspired by the passion Walt Whitman felt for the
> potential of America and promise of the future. Films were created
> to demonstrate Levi’s awareness and relevance in the world through
> “America” and “Pioneers! O Pioneers” accompanied by readings of
> Whitman’s poems of the same name. Outdoor and printed material
> evoked the spirit of the new pioneer—today’s progressive—by
> featuring such optimistic statements as “Will work for better
> times,” “All I need is all I got,” and “Tough as your spirit.”
> Combined with a digital re-editing of the Declaration of
> Independence and a call for young pioneers to create a new portrait
> of America online, the Go Forth campaign infused new energy into an
> authentic and beloved brand that had been somewhat quiet for too long.

In other words, Levi's pumps up it brand image by miming Whitman. But,
to note the CulStuds side of the debate, while some viewers recognize
this cynical exploitation, others forget/ignore the branding message
and respond to the words and images as authentic and novel (to them)
aesthetic experience, and seek out more of the same. Fukanaga, Blash,
and the creative director who hired them on and conceived the whole
thing have created leaky self-contradictory texts in which art is
polluted by commerce, but also in which commerce is subverted by art.

For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.