Adobe Shows Why Sports Stars Should Never Sign Big Contracts With an Actual Pen

An argument for digital signatures

Don't lose business because you're still using tedious pen-and-paper legal instruments, says a new ad from Adobe.

In the minute-long spot, sports announcers and fans go crazy amid news that a fictional basketball star, Anton Miller, is going to sign a "billion-dollar" deal with a make-believe basketball team, the Cincinnati Sabres (not to be confused with a real American Hockey League team, the Cincinnati Swords).

But as the celebrity player sits in a roundtable conference room with executives from the franchise, and his own entourage, it becomes clear things aren't going that well. The paperwork barely inches its way around the table, as an obnoxious lawyer points out to stakeholders the dozen or so places each will have to sign.

Eventually—spoiler alert—Miller receives a message from a competing team, San Jose, inviting him to sign another offer, right there on his smartphone, with a single flick of his finger, all thanks to to Adobe's quick-and-easy e-signature technology. He obliges, and exits the room, free to get on with his life.

Overall, the commercial, by Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, makes for a fun bit of hyperbole that, while ridiculous in the specifics, clearly makes its point: Don't alienate customers by wasting their time. It joins previous ads demonstrating the potential costs of a careless approach to business, like the dark comedy bit "Snake Bite," in which poor mobile design has severe consequences for a pair of hikers.

For now, the new ad is just running online, but will air on TNT during this fall's launch of the 2016 NBA season—part of a clever strategy that hopes to leverage buzz around real-world athlete signings, like Oklahoma City Thunder alum Kevin Durant's first game playing for the Golden State Warriors on Oct. 25, where six-time NBA All-Star Pau Gasol will also be debuting for the San Antonio Spurs.

In another online component of the campaign, Adobe is taking over the website of business magazine Fast Company on Monday and Tuesday, temporarily changing its name to Slow Company for visitors, with a gag cover design that includes fake teasers like "Messenger Pigeons: Are they right for your business?"

Then again, who knows. With the right technology, they could be.


Client: Adobe
Chief Marketing Officer: Ann Lewnes
VP, Experience Marketing Group: Alex Amado
Executive Creative Director: Steve Gustafson
Sr. Creative Director for Video: Dan Cowles
Director of Advertising and Production: Joel Giullian

Title of Creative Work: "Billion Dollar Player"
Live Date: 9/12/16

Agency: Goodby, Silverstein & Partners
Co-Chairmen: Rich Silverstein and Jeff Goodby
Chief Creative Officer: Margaret Johnson
Creative Director: Will Elliott
Creative Director: Patrick Knowlton
Creative Director: Roger Baran
Creative Director: Sam Luchini
Art Director: Jasper Yu
Art Director: Stefan Copiz
Copywriter: Alex Maleski
Director of Content Production: Tod Puckett
Senior Producer: Benton Roman
Production Coordinator: Rachel Newman
Managing Partner: Brian McPherson
Account Director: Theo Abel
Account Manager: Chelsea Bruzzone
Assistant Account Manager: Zack Piánko
Director of Brand Strategy: Bonnie Wan
Brand Strategist: Etienne Ma
Brand Strategist: Andrew Mak
Director of Communication Strategy: Christine Chen
Communication Strategy Deputy Director: Dong Kim
Senior Communication Strategist: Caitlin Neelon
Communication Strategist: Natalie Williamson
Junior Communication Strategist: Chloe Bosmeny
Business Affairs Manager: Heidi Killeen
Director of Music: Todd Porter

Reset (Production)
Director: Adam Hashemi
Managing Director: Dave Morrison
Executive Producer: Jeff McDougall
Bidding Producer: Jenn Ingalls
Head of Production: JP Columbo
Producer: Michelle Currinder

Rock Paper Scissors (Editor)
Producer: Charlyn Derrick
Editor: Olivier Bugge Coutte

Barking Owl (Music)
Sound Designer – Michael Anastasi
Mixer – Patrick Navarre
Music – Barking Owl
Creative Director – Kelly Bayett

The Mill (Post FX)
Senior Producer: Will Unterreiner
2D Lead: Tara Demarco