Levi’s Ad Goes Viral, Then Goes Away

This week’s viral marketing story is a tale of a huge success halted by an unfortunate mistake.

A few weeks ago, Levi Strauss & Co. okayed a clever video with huge viral potential – “Rear View Girls” is community-oriented, funny and includes a fun invitation to participate online in an associated making-of. The video went up on YouTube, and pulled in something around 7 million views in no time at all. It generated a lot of buzz (not in the least because it didn’t identify itself as being an ad, a tactic that tends to create controversy). And then, almost as quickly as it appeared, it was pulled offline.

Rumor has it that Levi’s and Colenso BBDO failed to get model releases for many of the people seen in the video. So in committing to making a real video instead of a real-seeming stunt ad, it seems Levi’s may have forgotten that it was still responsible for meeting legal standards for commercial use.

It’s been reposted a number of times since, so you can see all the things Levi’s did right:. Though, as always, it’s hard to know how effective an ad is when the brand doesn’t receive a single mention and the product isn’t showcased.

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