Mcgarrybowen Casts Reebok Stars in ‘Human’ Light

NEW YORK In its first campaign for Reebok, mcgarrybowen seeks to capture the humanity of celebrities such as basketball star Allen Iverson, recording industry honcho Jay-Z and actress Lucy Liu. The global effort, which includes TV, print, outdoor and cinema ads, breaks next week and introduces the tagline, “I am what I am.”

The budget was not disclosed, but Reebok said it was its biggest global campaign in 10 years. The Canton, Mass.-based company spends about $140 million on global advertising each year, according to its annual reports.

A TV spot breaking Feb. 20 depicts Iverson shooting pool and talking to the camera about his tough-guy image. “I’m not a gangster. I’m not a thug,” Iverson says between shots. Rather, he adds, he’s only “hard and tough on the basketball court.” Two other spots, featuring Jay-Z and rapper 50 Cent, are still in production.

The three stars also are featured in print spreads, along with Liu, tennis star Andy Roddick, basketball center Yao Ming and others. Each spread juxtaposes a portrait with a contrasting image, on top of which there’s a quote. The tag runs across the middle of both pages.

For example, the Jay-Z spread shows him seated in a pinstripe suit, along side a shot of a housing project. As his quote explains, “I got my MBA from the Marcy Projects.” A goofy mug of Roddick contrasts with a shot of his U.S. Open trophy with the words, “I take my tennis seriously. It’s the rest of my life that’s a little shaky.”

Since 2000, Reebok has focused on reaching younger consumers in the 18-to-24 age range and this campaign is designed to unify that effort under a single positioning, said global chief marketing officer Dennis Baldwin. In fact, all Reebok marketing will now incorporate the “I am what I am” theme, Baldwin said.

“We hope to encourage young people to find their own voice by celebrating contemporary icons who have accomplished their dreams by being true to themselves and following their own unique path to greatness,” Baldwin added.

Mcgarrybowen, a New York independent agency, landed brand strategy and sports initiative duties on Reebok in November. Its previous Reebok work was a tactical print ad celebrating the Boston Red Sox’ 2004 World Series victory.