BOSTON: The long-awaited first ads from Heater Advertising for Reebok International feature professional basketball player Allen Iverson and attempt to elevate the footwear maker’s Vector symbol to the level of Nike’s Swoosh.
The 30-second “Rites of Passage” commercial combines shots of graffiti-style murals with a rap song that chronicles Iverson’s escapades both on and off the court. Lyrics allude to the star’s recent arrest (“first thought: suspect, complaints lodged and filed, a hurt and hungry past”) and explain how, with help from the DMX 2000 shoe, he’ll “do what is needed” and “transcend, persevere.” The Vector appears at the end of the ad, shimmering silently for a moment against a dark background.
DeMane Davis, partner of The Heat who collaborated with Heater on the assignment, wrote the lyrics and called the ad “more of a gut reaction to Iverson as a person. He survived adversity and made it to the NBA.”
Another spot featuring Iverson, called “Recognize/Evolve,” breaks Nov. 19 and features a computerized analysis of his famed crossover move to promote The Answer, Iverson’s second signature shoe and the first to use Reebok’s DMX Series 2000 technology. “The strategy for ‘Recognize’ was to try to educate as opposed to just selling the shoe,” Davis explained.
Boston-based Heater plans to create a series of “Recognize/Evolve” TV commercials, possibly featuring another move Iverson is rumored to be developing.
In addition, a pair of 30- and 60-second spots called “The Tryout,” created by Reebok’s in-house team, introduce Shawn Kemp’s fifth signature shoe, Reignman II.
Spots are currently running on broadcasts of NBA games, Fox and MTV, Davis said. Reebok’s media buy for 1997 was in place before Leo Burnett, Chicago, resigned the account in May. Grey Advertising in New York now handles media chores.
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