Digital Marketing and Social Media Strategy

The future of advertising?

I love the fact that Blake Heal, Sam Griffith and Peter Cote were three unknown people last week, but who are now celebrated viral film makers.¬†Together with actor/model Michael Johnson, they created the popular “Guy Walks Across America” YouTube video. You can see the map and behind the scenes video on Mashable.

Subtle Product Placement

Guy Walks Across America, was created with 2770 still frames and produced in 14 days. There is no mention of an advertiser in the video, unless you look carefully.¬†At the end you will notice the famous Levis red tab in Johnson’s jeans.

I had a feeling there was more to this video, because they used the popular song, “Home” by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros (affiliate link). Surely, they would have had to get permission to use it.

This reminds me of the (equally awesome) OK Go, “This Too Shall Pass” video which features the State Farm Insurance red truck (with tiny logo) at the beginning of their video. In this case the video was financed by State Farm, but it was not an actual ad for the company.

The future of advertising?

What do you think? Is this effective advertising? Is the new direction of subtle product placement the best direction for advertising to go?


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  • adamauden

    I think it's a far more effective way of providing product placement to a sophisticated audience.

    Between our innate ability to tune out the familiar and that which we're not interested in, they need to be more subtle in their approach or we will just ignore the content completely.

    I could certainly make getting a particular message across more difficult, but as part of a larger campaign it could certainly be effectively used to raise brand or product awareness whilst communicating more about the product elsewhere.

  • Great points Adam, thanks.
    I think I actually respect a brand more for covering the costs of a great music video or film.

    I am also a big fan of CREATIVE advertising, so Levis sits well with me after this spot.

  • This made me flash back to the old Marlboro ads where the whole name wasn't even completely visible but the recognition — and the awareness of the brand — was still there even if the whole logo wasn't. This is similar in that it depends on that recognition of the red tag (which we all know) but it's less obvious. You have to watch the whole thing or you miss it and I think that's an issue to a degree, but it's not a killer one.

    This is obviously done with great skill and thought and planning. Just imagining doing a spot from that many stills and imagining the hassles of getting all the shots of the guy to line up hake my head ache. It is technically excellent, it is interesting, and it shows advertisers not being afraid of taking the initiative to support new things, all of which are great.

    But it has one flaw I see. It's only going to push me towards actually buying Levis if . . . Nope, it isn't. I watch that and it's “Oh, Levi's did that. Interesting. That was nice.” I appreciate Levis for doing it, but it's not really advertising. It's not going to influence my purchase decision unless it becomes a series that makes me feel warm all over just thinking about it.

    Of course, I'm a neanderthal anyway. I haven't even bought any Old Spice this month. :)

  • LOL! Good points all around.
    I think a big one that you're making too, is that you need to have an
    established brand with a recognizable logo to really take advantage of this
    subtle product placement.

    I would likely purchase Levis if I know they are supporting creative things.
    I must admit though, I still bought Irish Spring a few weeks ago, because it
    was a buck cheaper than Old Spice.

    Sorry @oldspice guy :)


  • Jennifer Kirkpatrick

    I hope so. I am tired of advertisers “screaming at me”….. This was entertaining and a great use of creativity.

  • Thanks Jennifer.

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