Ad Rant: Levi's celebrates America the beautiful...with $238 jeans and a greedy treasure hunt


Would you buy a pair of used-looking Levi's jeans from this man?

I would.

But I draw the line at using a great ad celebrating the pioneer spirit of America, along with Whitman's stirring words, as a springboard for a crass $100,000 treasure hunt.

For the past few months, Levi's has been piggybacking the poetry of Walt Whitman on its "Go Forth" ad campaign, linking its jeans to the can-do, hard-scrabble, exuberant spirit of early America. It even has Walt himself as its pitchman.

You'd think that would be difficult, given that the poet died in 1892. But, like DNA, MP3s live on forever: There is an original, 36-second wax cylinder recording of what is presumed to be Whitman's voice reading four lines from his poem, America. Levi's cleaned up the soundtrack; you can download the scratchy original here.

His voice is as stirring and passionate as any bootstrapper this country ever produced, as he extols the richness of the American people:

Strong, ample, fair, enduring, capable, rich
Perennial with the Earth, with Freedom, Law and Love

Watching this ad gives me chills. The good kind.