Maybe Grant McCracken is right. Maybe a new set of adverts for Levi's that use the words (and voice!) of Walt Whitman do show that “[a]dvertising has taken up what Whitman thought was the poet's job”. McCracken explains:
I think it is thrilling to see these meanings circulating in our culture, passing from the poem through the advertising to the jeans, both resonating with and for the American experiment. It is especially thrilling to hear Whitman's voice return to us from the 19th century, the muse himself made legion. Whatever else it is, W+K's work is successful homage. And America is usually too much a creation of Walt Whitman to pause and give him his due.
Either way, the ads, and W+K's account of them, are fascinating. I know I’m not in the demographic, and my jeans have been Levi’s ever since I can remember (with a brief detour to Land’s End), but I’m not sure the ads would make me buy Levi’s. Or feel better about wearing them.