Casey Neistat recently traveled around the entire world in 10 days – and all on Nike’s budget.

The athletic brand giant gave Neistat money to make a commercial for them, and instead he took off around the world with a friend and a camera, filming his adventures as he went along.  The result? An 4:38-long YouTube video that makes you want to leap away from the computer, run to the airport and take off – rebelling against “the Man”, following your own path and “#makeitcount”-ing. The video inspires a sense of individualism and freedom that only a well-made travel video can do. So, it can be hard to forget that we’re not watching one man’s revolt against the status quo…we’re watching a Nike commercial.

Neistat is getting a lot of flack from commenters – people wondering why he would do that with the money, instead of “actually making the commercial for Nike”. But here’s the thing – by making him seem so rebellious and adventurous, he’s creating the best kind of commercial that Nike could ever ask for. If it was your standard advertisement, 6,112,730 people would not have willingly took time to watch the YouTube video. Instead, everyone thinks they’re tuning in to watch Neistat have this crazy adventure – and everyone who does is also now aware of the #makeitcount campaign.

What Neistat did was actually demonstrate living the lifestyle that Nike has been trying to portray in their advertisements for years. Watching Michael Jordan give his thumbs-ups to the shoes is one thing – but unless you’re in Middle School, you kind of realize that you’ll never actually become Mr. Jordan. Watching Neistat, however, actually makes you feel like you could do this too. And, in a sense, this is what a Nike-wearer does. While Adidas- and Puma-wearers are buying into a brand, a Nike person is buying into a lifestyle, a certain type of “cool” that the others could never live up to.

I’m excited about this new direction that advertising is heading. It’s more guerilla, more convincing the consumer with real-life examples, than with the scripted ads of yore. Commercials are no longer just an excuse to run to the bathroom during a tv show – it’s something that we actually go out of our way to consume. Commercials are becoming the entertainment, instead of just providing a break.

So, in short, well done, Mr. Neistat. And welcome to the new age of advertising.

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