Pioneers! O Pioneers!


Wieden + Kennedy sets a pioneering tone for Levi’s “Go Forth” campaign with help from American poet Walt Whitman. 

Agency: Wieden + Kennedy, Portland



“Come, my tan-faced children/ Follow well in order, get your weapons ready/ Have you your pistols? have you your sharp-edged axes?/ Pioneers! O pioneers!”

— Walt Whitman, 1855

We were on the couch, talking and flipping channels, when suddenly, he or I, I can’t remember, paused on a Levi’s commercial. We both stared.

Most people have probably seen this commercial a hundred times, but we only recently got cable, and this first time we saw it, my boyfriend and I were awed:

Tanned, sinewy people, dancing around flames and water, running and jumping through woods with torches, bounding down dirt roads waving banners; they all seemed to be doing something vaguely revolutionary, vaguely anti-establishment, vaguely important. Over it all, words that made my pulse beat faster:

“For we cannot tarry here/We must march my darlings, we must bear the brunt of danger/

We, the youthful sinewy races, all the rest on us depend, Pioneers! O pioneers!”

“That poem was awesome,” I said at the same time my boyfriend said, “Those images were awesome.”

Both of us were right. But while it’s fairly obvious that an ad agency came up with the images, some might not know that Walt Whitman came up with the words. ()

Read on

Levi’s Ad Gets Her Thinking by Lauren Daley

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One thought on “Pioneers! O Pioneers!

  1. Nicola Orichuia says:

    An exciting ad indeed! I get goosebumps every time I see it

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