ROGUE WINGMAN: ONE MAN’S INSANE DECISION TO TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN

What happens when you score a deal with one of the biggest brands on the planet to shoot a commercial for their new campaign, you sign off on the creative, and then you toss it out the window and globetrot on their dime until the cash runs out? Ask Casey Neistat, the very director in question, because he just did exactly that.

And got away with it.

Neistat and his camera man just took the money and ran – Nike’s money, no less – and decided that they could shoot a better representation of their “Make It Count” marketing slogan by taking the company’s words literally. And not telling them what they were doing, either. The pair hit every place Neistat had ever wanted to travel, partied, met the locals, ate scary food and generally burned the candle at both ends until their budget ran out. Ten days, to be exact.

What they returned with was more raw footage than any person could realistically sift through in their 11 day deadline, some serious jet lag, and the overwhelming fear that the company that they had essentially just flipped off (or paid tribute to, depending on how you look at it) was going to sue them, murder them, or effectively just end their careers. All together now, say it with me, “Ho-ly. Sh*t.”

And what was Nike’s reaction? Initially fear, then disbelief, and ultimately…well, here’s where I pass the buck. I’m sure I’m not doing this story adequate justice, so you’d do well to check out this interview with Neistat and a more comprehensive rundown by the folks over at FastCompany. It’s a pretty jaw-dropping read. But make sure to watch the final product from the YouTube embed below (it streams better), and watch as the viewer numbers keep rising and rising. If what Nike wanted was a viral hit, I’d say they got one…one way or another.

The takeaway from this is that this guy essentially did what every person who was ever struck with inspiration dreams of doing. Going big. I mean really, really BIG. Granted, Neistat had the benefit of a strong relationship that gave him creative freedom, a solid head start and most importantly, a gut feeling that he could just do it better.

Those among us who have the swagger, the bravery and yes – the stupidity – to do something better than everyone else are to be lauded. Or viewed as cautionary tales, depending on how the story shakes out. But in this case, not only is the ad pretty damn cool, but the (forgive me, mom) balls it took to pull it off are even more impressive. So find your passion, boys and girls, take a leap, and don’t forget to make it count.GEEK WINGMAN

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