Pioneers, O Pioneers!

Levi’s started using the advertisement slogan, “Go Forth”, in 2009. This video is the first of their marketing campaign.

The company chose “Pioneers, O Pioneers,” a poem by Walt Whitman, as the words of the video. Are any of you familiar with it?

If not, read the poem here.

Walt Whitman is an iconic figure of the late 19th and early 20th century American poetry. He lived from 1819-1892. He loved the American West and the symbolism of the Gold Rush as the progression of American culture. Man could stumble upon riches through returning to the wild. Man must search for his inner “Noble Savage.”  Many would classify Whitman as a transcendentalist, but I propose Whitman embodied the spirit and ideology of the Romanticists in America. We must let our inner animal, “GO FORTH.”

Now, wait a minute, Thom. What does Romanticism have to do with Levi’s? The two things are almost two centuries apart!

Remember my last post? I concluded the details matter. Everything is connected, unlike what most of the modern world would have us think.

Levi’s uses the details in their clip to evoke a vision of discovery of self. For the Romantics, emotion reveals truth, not fact, nor outside source, nor even our mind. Emotion gives us the right and belief system to live. We must do what we feel. For both Whitman and the Romantics, nature should be sought. She reveals truth to all.

Levi’s is not simply selling clothing. They sell ideology. Just as the man in the ad carried stick, then banner, then torch, they carry forth an ideology of “do what you want, when you want.”

The world must rest on the shoulders of the youth, they say. Reject all standards. Reject all history. Reject all tradition. Run back to your Mother Nature. Run with your emotion and embrace the rawness of tribal dance. Do what you want, when you want. Go Forth! Spread these ideas to the world.

The commercial is one of ideology, not simply marketing.

Did you know that?

What ideologies do you process from the commercials you view? Are you aware of the connections lying beneath the surface?



  1. Voicel3ss says:

    I’d love to see your thoughts on this commercial from Apple:

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