Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Art of the Viral Marketing Campaign

"Guy Walks Across America" made its YouTube debut on Tuesday, 20th July and, at the time of writing, has racked up a total of 54,242 views. Combining stop-motion animation and time-lapse photography, it features a man taking a Herculean stroll across the United States of America.

There is a particular delight that comes with finding an original, creative, and aesthetically pleasing little online video like this one.

Then, there's the disappointment that follows when you discover its dirty little secret.

It turns out "Guy Walks Across America" is a viral marketing campaign for the Levi's company.
We are looking for a male model with a great personality to be the lead in a viral advertisement for Levi’s Jeans. This project is going to be an epic adventure across America with a small crew in an RV.

2 minute time-lapse of someone in Levi jeans walking across America from New York to San Francisco.

Need your body language and facial expression to come through in a stop-motion style of shooting.

In hindsight, compared with the undeniably beautiful HD photography, the title is a little too simplistic, the editing is a wee bit too seamless, and the subject is a tad less scruffy than you would expect from a man who has spent two weeks trotting across America. However, since the obvious comparison to be made here is Where the Hell is Matt (who will no doubt receive a renewed surge in views on behalf of Levi's), this is certainly an original and timely challenge. Taking on YouTube's most coveted viral campaign is no mean feat.

Levi's recently terminated its 28-year relationship with BBH - cited by the Financial Times as the end of an era - one that spawned iconic adverts dating back to 1982. If this viral marketing gem is anything to go by, Levi's is weathering the split and holding tight to BBH's motto - "when the world zigs, zag”.

The walkUSA channel features a behind the scenes video that emphasises its small crew of six, the simplicity of the technology used, and their humble travels across the country in an RV. It's all so sweet and squeaky clean, you have to wonder whether this really was a bona-fide low-budget shoot.

Can you smell a viral marketing campaign, or were you fooled with the rest of us? Leave your thoughts in the comments!

I'll leave you with my personal favourite Levi's ad - Kevin the Hamster.

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