Fuel Lets James' Game Energize Juice

LOS ANGELES A spot for the teen-targeted battery Juice is the first TV commercial featuring former high-school basketball phenom and future Sprite spokesman LeBron James.

One of a graphics-dominated, four-spot package by Fuel, Santa Monica, Calif., the ad premiered on MTV’s Video Music Awards and continues for the next 13 weeks on the MTV network. Four to six more spots are in production, with at least one of the ads to showcase the directing debut of MTV dance-show host Wade Robson.

The James spot was shot at a high school gym in Akron, Ohio. “He very much acts his age,” said Fuel’s principal and creative director, Justin Leibow, about the teenager who is preparing for his first NBA season. “After green-screening the gym, I acted as sort of a cross between a director and a witness of an event. I told him what we were looking for and let him go.”

Client Winner International, Sharon, Pa., commissioned the spots through MTV, New York, directly to Leibow. “There was no agency and no boards,” said Leibow. “I created the concept based on a mission statement that they wanted to sell batteries on an emotional level versus a technical level. They wanted it to appeal to the MTV generation, make it cool to buy the battery.” MTV provided the media placement, he said.

The low-budget package, executive produced by Janet Arlotta, began with a 15-second teaser, a flurry of mod-influenced imagery—”abstract situations built around emotional key words,” said Leibow. Using the Juice name to invoke pop ideas, a voiceover says the battery is “refreshable,” i.e., rechargeable. Another spot features Robson break dancing amid surreal imagery and swirling typography.