A streaker steals a golf pin and athletes jump over moving vehicles in ads which Jason Peterson, creative director and partner at Berlin Cameron & Partners, calls "visual overload." A montage of frenetic images makes up the first spot in the agency's new global campaign for Reebok International.
Tagged "Defy convention," the effort launched yesterday on CBS during the post-Super Bowl premiere of Survivor: The Australian Outback.
First up was a dizzying 60-second commercial that packs in Reebok athlete endorsers Venus Williams, Allen Iverson, Jevon Kearse, Julie Foudy and Steve Francis, as well as many noncelebrities.
Ads celebrate athletes as individuals who have defied convention and beaten the odds. The work "blends lifestyle and sports in a way we haven't done before" in order to reach 16-24-year-olds, says John Wardley, vice president of brand communications for the Canton, Mass.-based sneaker giant.
The worldwide budget for 2001 exceeds $100 million, Wardley adds, about a 50 percent increase over last year's global effort. MediaCom, New York, is handling buying chores.
Commercials were shot in quick-cut fashion and include images accompanied by the rhythms of hip-hop artist DJ Shadow, who contributed a funky arrangement of "The William Tell Overture" for the soundtrack.
Footage of the athletes was shot around the world, but the stars aren't always shown playing their respective sports.
Philadelphia 76ers icon Iverson, in an updated version of a spot aired briefly last year, performs a rap. Houston Rockets star Francis leaps over cars; Foudy shoots clay pigeons with soccer balls.
In other scenarios, a sumo wrestler attempts a gymnastic vault, mountain bikers plunge into a pool of water and a woman makes photocopies of her backside.
A slew of 15- and 30-second executions, some edited from the 60-second effort, are expected to follow. Included in the mix are solo spots for Iverson and Williams, the reigning Wimbledon women's singles champ.
With the introduction of the "Defy convention" tagline, four-year creative agency Berlin Cameron in New York believes it's hit upon a message broad enough to fit future ads, says Peterson. "They've never had one thing they were able to stick with," he notes, citing past themes such as "Planet Reebok" and "U.B.U."
"We've not been consistent with ads," agrees Wardley. "Defy convention" is designed to "give us a solid platform to build off. [It is] very much a long-term positioning for the brand."
As for the thinking behind the line, Peterson adds, "Reebok is an alternative to everything everyone else is doing and wearing."
Wardley views the positioning as "more a mind-set than a theme [and is designed to] put a smile on people's faces."
This past summer Reebok created ads specifically for the first Survivor show that featured fictitious characters Nate and Brian and the tagline, "Want better advice." Unlike that effort, "Defy convention" will run elsewhere, Peterson says. "This is a larger branding campaign," he explains. "Nate and Brian were a small thing."
"Defy convention" will be exported to France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain and the U.K. Some local athletes and new scenarios may be added as the campaign matures, but the basic template will be kept intact, Wardley says.
The print version will begin appearing in March issues of national and international magazines such as GQ, InStyle, Self, Shape, Jane, Glamour, Details, Maxim and Entertainment Weekly. Reebok