WongDoody Calls on John Wooden

Legendary Hoops Coach Lends Inspiration to Adidas’ UCLA Ads
LOS ANGELES–Legendary college basketball coach John Wooden is bringing his near-mythical powers of inspiration to advertising.
The beloved former UCLA coach, now retired and in his eighties, is the focus of WongDoody’s new campaign for Adidas America in partnership with the prestigious Los Angeles university.
The ads feature Wooden as a mystical, all-knowing symbol of UCLA spirit. TV spots show the women’s water polo team, a cheerleading squad and a runner battling adversity with help from his wisdom and spirit. Wooden is represented in the ads by a small figurine that lends advice at crucial moments to push the athletes on.
Wooden recorded the voiceovers, which use quotes from his coaching days. “The courageous struggle for a noble cause should be considered success in itself,” he tells a track athlete who has stumbled and fallen. To the cheerleaders trying to make a pyramid, he says, “You’ve confused team spirit with competitive greatness.”
The tagline is, “The spirit of greatness. The spirit of UCLA.”
“These spots somehow manage to be reverent and irreverent at the same time,” said Tracy Wong, principal and creative director at WongDoody, Seattle and Santa Monica, Calif. “While the situations are wacky, the presence of Coach Wooden gives the spots a heart.”
The TV ads will air nationally and regionally through December during UCLA football and basketball games. Outdoor boards will run on campus and throughout L.A. Lead shop Leagas Delaney, San Francisco, is handling the media buy.
The campaign is WongDoody’s second Adidas America assignment since joining the company’s roster in May. Its first effort, which has not aired yet, is for the shoe and apparel company’s University of Notre Dame partnership.
The account is serviced out of Santa Monica, but creative support came from Seattle headquarters.