Klay Thompson’s Comeback Ode Is Visually Stunning While Telling an Honest Story

Translation follows up its State Farm work with another winner

Klay Thompson on the comeback trail Kaiser Permanente
Headshot of Doug Zanger

Athlete comeback story ads (or films, if you’d like) usually follow a linear pattern. First, the devastating injury, then the blow-by-blow of the comeback. The stories are often compelling, sometimes heartbreaking, but generally resolve themselves in the payoff at the end with a return to competition.

Last week, Golden State Warriors star Klay Thompson shared a new film of his own journey back from his ACL injury in last year’s NBA Finals. The short, created by Translation (which gained a bit of buzz about its State Farm work during ESPN’s The Last Dance) and for Kaiser Permanente, follows a predictable pattern … to a point.


First off, it’s a long ad. Ordinarily, a six-minute ad like this would be considered ridiculously self-indulgent. But the brand and agency give you plenty of reasons to stick around. Yes, the familiar structure is there, but several artistic flourishes and metaphors make the work more compelling.

One could also argue that the subject of the film, Thompson himself, is another reason that it’s something different. Though he’s a legit superstar, he’s not often in as white-hot a spotlight as other NBA stars like LeBron James and his Warriors teammate Steph Curry (who fronted another series for Kaiser Permanente in 2018). He’s an interesting cat, and the inclusion of his candid father, former Portland Trail Blazers great Mychal Thompson, makes the short that much more interesting.

It’s easy to take work like this and try to overinterpret and deconstruct. And while there are reasons to break down creative motivations from the director, Floyd Russ, sometimes it’s perfectly fine to watch something like this and simply enjoy it.

CREDITS:

Translation LLC
CEO and Founder: Steve Stoute
President: Ann Wool
Head of Client Services: Susanna Swartley
Chief Marketing Officer: Chaucer Barnes
Group Creative Director: Alex Kaplan
Group Creative Director: Barry Katz
Senior Art Director: Dylan Simel
Senior Copywriter: Nickolaus Sugai
Executive Content Producer: Matthew Flaherty
Content Producer: Dustin Grant
Account Director: Austin Scherer
Account Supervisor: Ciara Travis
Account Executive: Bridget Derraugh
Chief Strategy Officer: Sandi Preston
Strategy Director: Drew Simel
Strategist: Megan Mundo
Director of Business Affairs: Thalia Tsouros
Business Affairs Manager: Maria Elia
Business Affairs Manager: Noyle Jones
Context Director: Angel Navedo
Senior Project Manager: Ali Schurz

Tool of North America
Director: Floyd Russ
Executive Producer: Laura Macauley
Line Producer: Andy Coverdale
DP: Jacob Moller
Production Designer: Dean Backer
Editor: Stacy Peterson at Cut + Run, Post Producer Marcia Wigley
VFX: MPC, VFX Supervisor Tobey Lindback

Cut + Run NY
Editor: Stacy Peterson
Assistant Editor: Chris Wronka
Head of Production: Marcia Wigley

MPC
Creative Director: Alvin Cruz
VFX Supervisor: Alvin Cruz
VFX Supervisor: Tobey Lindback
Senior Executive Producer: Camila De Biaggi
Senior Producer: Elissa Norman
2D Lead: Tobey Lindback
2D artists: Mazyar Sharifian, Renato Carone, Anthony Ricciardi

Jogger Studios Online NY
Flame Artist: Joey Grosso
Flame Assistant: Rachel Driver
Post Producer: Mike Tockman

The Mill NY
Colorist: Mikey Rosssiter

Human Worldwide
Music, Sound Design and Mix

Barking Owl
Mix: Dan Flosdorf
Senior Producer: Ashley Bento


@zanger doug.zanger@adweek.com Doug Zanger is a senior editor, agencies at Adweek, focusing on creativity and agencies.