But Nike, which has always prided itself at balancing both, offers a mix in "The Conductor," a just-released spot that portrays the retiring 37-year-old Laker as an orchestra conductor fully in control of an arena of players, coaches and unruly fans—lovers and haters alike.
The spot, created by Wieden + Kennedy in Portland, Ore., and directed by Mark Romanek, also features Phil Jackson, Paul Pierce, Rasheed Wallace, Benny the Bull and fans representing nine basketball teams.
Check it out here:
As in Nike's earlier tribute to Bryant, starring the brand's other endorsers, the theme here is the love and hate that Bryant has experienced over the years—depicted in the new spot by the "symphony of cheers and jeers" across the stadium, as Nike puts it.
The spot has a goofy theatricality to it that actually recalls W+K's Old Spice work, particularly the "Momsong" and "Dadsong" spots, which were also musicals. But while it walks that line, "The Conductor" is also clearly not a parody—but rather illustrates "how hate has manifested into respect and admiration for Bryant," Nike says.
Beginning at tipoff tonight, fans will also be able to customize and purchase a limited-edition of the KOBE 11 Mamba Day NIKEiD shoe. The final NIKEiD shoe of his pro career will feature a graphic highlighting eight notable career stats (see below).
We'll have more on Bryant's retirement, and marketers' handling of it, later today.
Project: The Conductor
Agency: Wieden + Kennedy, Portland, Ore.
Creative Directors: Alberto Ponte and Ryan O’Rourke
Copywriter: Josh Bogdan and Nathaniel Friedman
Art Director: Jacob Weinstein
Producer: Matt Hunnicutt /Molly Tait Tanen/Mauricio Granado
Director: Mark Romanek
Production Company: Anonymous Content
Executive Producers: SueEllen Clair, Eric Stern
Producer: James Graves
Director of Photography: Greig Fraser
Editorial Company: Exile
Editor: Eric Zumbrunnen
Post Producer: Brittany Carson
Post Executive Producer: CL Weaver
VFX Company: MPC LA
VFX Supervisor: Michael Gregory
Lead Compositor: Brian Williams
Executive Producer: Lexi Stearn
VFX Producer: Brian Friel
Colorist: Mark Gethin
Music+Sound Company: Beacon Street Studios
Composer: Andrew Feltenstein & John Nau
Sound Designer: Rommel Molina
Song (if applicable): "I’ve Been Hating You Too Long To Stop Now"
Producer: Leslie DiLullo
Mix Company: Beacon Street Studios
Mixer: Rommel Molina