Reebok Drafts Star of ‘Murderball’ Film

BOSTON Quadriplegic rugby player Mark Zupan, star of the documentary film Murderball, has been engaged to appear in Reebok’s sometimes controversial “I am what I am” global ad campaign, the footwear marketer said.

“Mark is an incredible athlete who is both individualistic and inspirational,” said Brian Povinelli, Reebok vp of integrated marketing. “His story of overcoming great challenges while always staying true to himself is extremely powerful and sends an important message—always live life to the fullest.” The film opens July 8 in New York and Los Angeles.

New York-based independent agency mcgarrybowen crafted the campaign for the client in Canton, Mass., which spends about $150 million annually on ads, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

“I love the ‘I am what I am’ ads that show the side of stars like Allen Iverson and Jay-Z that fans rarely see and I’m excited to be the newest face in Reebok’s campaign,” said Zupan. “Like me, Allen and Jay-Z have also had their own struggles and obstacles to overcome before they were able to rise to the top of their game.”

The multimedia campaign broke in February and links all of the brand’s marketing efforts.

The most controversial endorser has been 50 Cent, who starred in a Reebok TV ad in April that alluded to attempts made on his life. In the spot, the rapper counts to nine, the number of times he has been shot. Critics charged the spot glorified violence; Reebok defended the ad but later pulled it off the air.

—Adweek staff report