LeBron James and Adriana Lima Tell Kids to Be Scientists, Not Celebrities in Verizon Spot

R/GA created the #weneedmore project

LeBron James thinks the world has enough basketball stars. Verizon
Headshot of Patrick Coffee

Millions of young Americans want nothing more than to be the next LeBron James.

But the Cavs forward and frequent pitchman has a different message for kids: The world doesn’t really need more basketball stars. Drew Brees and Adriana Lima posit that the world doesn’t really need more quarterbacks or supermodels, either.

What does the world need more of, then? The answer, according to a new Verizon campaign set to launch during the first round of the Final Four this weekend, is more scientists, engineers, mathematicians and tech professionals.

The purpose of the campaign created by Verizon’s digital agency partner R/GA is to highlight the telecom giant’s Innovative Learning initiative, which funds STEM education programs at schools throughout the U.S.

“We made it our mission years ago to deliver the promise of the digital world; it’s part of our transition from a telecom company to a digital company,” Verizon chief marketing officer Diego Scotti told Adweek. “Not having access or knowing how to use [technology] today is like not knowing how to read or write 100 years ago.”

As to why Verizon is running an ad during the Final Four that doesn’t mention a single product, Scotti said, “We are in a category where whoever shouts loudest with the cheapest offer wins. But we want to make a point: our place in the world is also about [Verizon’s] values and its mission. This was a really important moment for us as a tech company, and connecting with this audience made a lot of sense.”

"Not having access or knowing how to use [technology] today is like not knowing how to read or write 100 years ago."
Verizon chief marketing officer Diego Scotti

In the lead-up to this campaign, Verizon asked kids in “underserviced” schools about their life goals—and an overwhelming number said they wanted to be celebrities. “The more we spoke with them,” said Scotti, “the more we understood that they think those are the only jobs that get the best part of the [current] economic situation.”

This making-of video illustrates his point.

To date, Verizon has not yet heavily promoted Innovative Learning—but the partnership now includes some 430 schools around America. Scotti frames it as part of his company’s larger efforts to emphasize its growing social responsibility as Verizon gains more power in the worlds of media, technology … and advertising. According to Scotti, the celebrities involved—each of whom have each partnered with the company in some respect before—volunteered their time for #weneedmore.

The campaign will continue by way of future spots featuring such stars as actress and singer Zendaya and NASCAR driver Joey Logano. Scotti said it aims to show the public “a side of the company and the brand that not a lot of people know.”

“How great would it be to ask these friends of ours to debunk the idea that you need to be a celebrity to succeed in life?” he asked. “Everything is very authentic.”

He did not, however, dispute the fact that a pro basketball career would almost certainly be very cool.


Campaign: Verizon #weneedmore
Agency:  R/GA New York

Verizon Credits
Chief Marketing Officer: Diego Scotti
President, Verizon Foundation: Rose Kirk
Director, CSR Marketing: Deirdre Robinson
Manager, CSR Marketing: Kendall Lee
Manager, CSR Marketing: Jennifer Sengupta

Agency: R/GA
Senior Art Director: Michaela McCrink
Art Director: Nancy Nystrom
Executive Creative Director: Isaac Silverglate
Senior Copywriter: Raegan Allsbrook
Senior Copywriter: Isobel Oliphant
Executive Creative Director: John Berman
Art Director: Zachary McKinney
Executive Creative Director: Erin Lynch
Experience Design Director: Vincent Steurs
Experience Designer: Talia Briganti
Associate Designer: Adam Sareen
EVP, Managing Director: Kris Kiger
Executive Creative Director: Lars Hannson
Design Director: Vitor Andrade
Design Director: Jessica Bergstresser
Senior Designer: Paul Gonzalez
Designer: Timothee Bayard
Senior Producer: Tarah Marvell
Producer : Nicole Poull
Associate Producer: Kevin Solomon
Managing Director: Vanessa Reyes,
Management Supervisor: Gabriela Laguna
Account Supervisor: Erin Brogan
Senior Software Engineer: Wade Wojcak
Associate Technology Director, QA: Silas Law
Senior Technology Director: Nauman Hafiz
Senior QA Engineer: Donna Gonzales-Mapagu
Senior Technology Director: Isabel Kantor
Technology Lead: Eloy Anzola
Executive Technology Director: Micah Topping
Technology Lead: David Holm
Executive Director: Paul Turzio
Associate Director: Meghan Phillips
Senior Analyst: Deanna Meyer
Senior Analyst: Naha Dayal
Executive Strategy Director: Donny Jensen
Strategy Director: Bryn Little
Associate Strategy Director: Antonio Guerrero
Social Strategy: Aaron Georges
Producer: Will Morel
Executive Producer: David Fisher
Senior Manager, Business Affairs: Lynda Blaney-Smith
Senior Producer: Damisi Rosemond
Retouch Artist: Richard Majchrzak
Senior Video Editor: Charlie Porter

Production: B-Reel Films
Directors: Anders Hallberg and Tom Malmros
Director of Photography: Aril Wretblad
Executive Producer: Michael McQuhae
Producer: Meg Gutman
Production Supervisor Samantha Gershberg

Post-Production: Cut and Run
Editor: Gary Knight
Producer: Joanna Hall

Color Grading & Finishing: Jogger

Colorist Jamie O’Bradovich

Music: ELIAS
Composer: Zach Golden
Creative Director: Eric Ronick
Producer: Matt Phenix

Sound Design/Mix: Heard City
Sound Engineer: Jeremy Siegel
Producer: Sasha Awn

@PatrickCoffee patrick.coffee@adweek.com Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.