How Levi’s sponsored ‘America’ viral video

Headshot of David Griner

Earlier today, I said that the popular new "Guy Walks Across America" video would make a great tourism ad for the United States, but there was already some grumbling across the Web that the YouTube sensation is actually a promotion for Levi’s. So I went straight to the source, the young filmmakers at Conscious Minds, and asked them to clarify whether their work is indeed a "Levi’s viral." Their answer highlights the blurry line between sponsorship and marketing when it comes to online content. "We came up with the concept and idea ourselves and pitched it to Levi's to get a sponsor to help fund the project," said Blake Heal, VP of Development for Conscious Minds, in an e-mail to AdFreak. "They loved the authenticity of the project and our pioneering spirit and provided us with a sponsorship to execute our vision." Heal wouldn't give a total dollar figure for Levi's support, but he said the company "covered gas, food and production resources – and of course 501s for the whole crew." So is the video a Levi's viral promotion in the style of Stride Gum's "Where the Hell is Matt?", or is it more in the tradition of a theatrical production being sponsored by a corporation? In the end, it's largely a debate of semantics, one that I'd hate to see overshadow the fact that this is, unquestionably, an incredible work of art.

@griner David Griner is creative and innovation editor at Adweek and host of Adweek's podcast, "Yeah, That's Probably an Ad."