Johannes Leonardo Celebrates Originality for Adidas with…Pharrell?

By Erik Oster 

In a case of truly terrible timing, Johannes Leonardo released a new 30-second spot for Adidas celebrating the importance of originality with Pharrell Williams, less than two weeks after Williams, along with Robin Thicke, were ordered to pay $7.3 million to Marvin Gaye‘s estate for copyright infringement.

While opinions are split on that decision, having Pharrell say “Don’t decide your style based on my style…or anyone else’s” following such a decision will be hard for viewers to ignore. That would have always been a disingenuous statement coming from Pharrell, whose style is anything but original (he even stole his hat from Arby’s), but in light of that recent news the can’t help but make Adidas look bad. Obviously, the spot was created before the decision in that case came to light and blew up all over the Internet, leaving Adidas and Johannes Leonardo with a serious case of bad luck/timing as no matter how good the ad is, that’s all people will notice.

Judged outside its unfortunate circumstances, the ad is not particularly noteworthy either way. The “originality” approach is meant to demonstrate the brand’s “50 colors, 50 choices” and while the voiceover isn’t particularly compelling, the spot is well produced and finds some interesting ways to express its message visually. That it is shot in black and white, except for the colorful Adidas, for example, is kind of a nice touch.