Adidas’ ‘Laila’ Is a Clip Off the Old Block

NEW YORK A young Muhammad Ali seems to spar with his daughter Laila in one of three adidas TV spots that began breaking nationally on Thursday as part of a $50 million campaign themed “Impossible is nothing.”

In the 60-second “Laila,” directed by Lance Acord of Park Pictures in New York, ’70s footage of Muhammad Ali is blended with new clips of Laila to make it appear they are boxing each other in a ring. As Laila’s voiceover states, “Impossible isn’t a fact, it’s an opinion,” she seems to punch her father in the stomach. As they retire to their respective corners, Ali seems to wink at his daughter. The work retains “Forever sport” as a tagline.

The campaign aims to “deliver an emotional component that ‘Forever Sport’ needed to be relevant to young people,” said Lee Clow, chairman and chief creative officer of TBWA Worldwide. Clow served as co-executive creative director on the effort, created by the San Francisco office of TBWA\C\D, in collaboration with 180 in Amsterdam, Netherlands [Adweek, Feb. 2]. 180’s Peter McHugh was also co-executive creative director on the TV spots. Creative director Richard Bullock served as copywriter; associate creative director Dean Maryon provided art direction.

A second spot, “The Long Run,” shows Muhammad Ali on a training run in Zaire in 1974, joined by modern athletes including Laila Ali, swimmer Ian Thorpe and Orlando Magic basketball player Tracy McGrady, among others. The third ad presents professional skateboarder Stacy Kohut on a half-pipe when he was younger and today, still performing after an accident left him confined to a wheelchair.

Ulrich Becker, managing director for adidas-Salomon International Marketing in Herzogenaurach, Germany, said the campaign’s message is: “You should use all you have within you to give it your best. … That’s what sport is about and that’s what the company is about.”

Three months of post-production were required to blend the old and new footage in “Laila” and “The Long Run,” Becker said. Digital Domain in Venice, Calif., handled special effects.

Print and outdoor, with visuals of the athletes from the TV spots, along with product photography, are also part of the campaign. “Laila” and “The Long Run” will roll out globally in March.