the take

YouTube Dancer Matt Harding Taking the Stride Gum Message Into the New York ‘Times’

Screencap: Matt Harding’s YouTube.

In today’s Times, Charles McGrath lends the Gray Lady’s imprimatur to Matt Harding, that guy who films himself doing that goofy dance all over the world. “It’s the online equivalent of a platinum hit, seeping from one computer to the next like a virus,” McGrath writes of “Where the Hell Is Matt,” employing a weirdly malevolent metaphor, but whatever: If this article gets even more people to watch Matt Harding’s video, or his outtakes, or his awesome Google Earth animation, or College Humor’s “Where the Hell Is Matt’s Girlfriend,” that’s pretty excellent — for the world, for Matt Harding, and for Stride Gum.

Stride is the chewing-gum company that underwrote Matt’s last two expeditions, just because they thought his ideas were kind of funny. McGrath marvels at the anti-advertising advertising that ensues: “Amazingly, in this era of shameless commercial tie-ins, Mr. Harding is not obliged to wear a Stride T-shirt or deliver a little pitch for the product.”

But Stride has the last laugh! First of all, it cultivates the image of itself as the model of a modern company, funding the excursions of fun-loving goofballs, while getting its brand name in front of 4 million viewers (and plenty of New York Times readers). (On the other hand, they’ve likely now had to field pitches from scores of other slackers with their own bright ideas of ways to spend Stride’s money.) Plus, it sort of seems like maybe Matt Harding is — if unconsciously — delivering little pitches for the product that sent him around the world. “I’m happy with what there is,” he tells McGrath when asked if another Web video lies in his future. “I don’t want to pop the bubble.”

A Private Dance? Four Million Web Fans Say No [NYT]

YouTube Dancer Matt Harding Taking the Stride Gum Message Into the New York ‘Times’