Kobe Bryant Handcrafts Pianos and Sneakers in Ad That Makes Lionel Richie Cry

Nike and Foot Locker's latest

Kobe Bryant doesn't just play pianos. He makes them.

Or so it would appear from the opening scenes of this new ad from Wieden + Kennedy pitching "The Kobe Piano," from which "every note [is] a comedy and tragedy that would make Shakespeare laugh and weep. It will turn piano boys into piano men. It will make Lionel Richie's tears cry tears."

Turns out it's an elaborate metaphor for a line of shoes designed by Bryant for Foot Locker and Nike. The collection, the ad informs us, is the "grandest grand collection of grand collections." And yes, Richie himself makes a cameo—adding to his own commercial lore in the process.

While the voiceover copy is a bit Old Spicey, the ad blends the winking melodrama of "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like" with a healthy heaping of mock pretension, à la Bryan Cranston selling an iPad, and a dash of good old-fashioned Ron Swanson style woodworking.

It has the obligatory sports-stats reference. It's beautifully shot and well paced, and entertaining enough. It makes its point, however circuitously, that the product is like a finely crafted instrument.

A second spot, meanwhile, likens the collection to the invention of a better, stronger lightbulb—complete with a shattering sledgehammer and the ability to make even Judah Friedlander look dapper. Sorry, ladies. It's just another metaphor for sneakers.

Credits below.


Clients: Nike and Foot Locker

Campaign: "Made by Kobe"

Agency: Wieden + Kennedy, Portland, Ore.

Creative Directors: Don Shelford, Rob Thompson

Copywriter: Adam Noel

Art Director: Jon Kubik

Producer: Shannon Worley

Executive Agency Producer: Matt Hunnicutt

Account Team: Jordan Muse, Heather Morba

Executive Creative Directors: Mark Fitzloff, Susan Hoffman, Joe Staples

Production Company: Traktor Towers

Director: Traktor

Executive Producer: Rani Melendez

Line Producer: Rani Melendez

Director of Photography: Bojan Bozelli

Editing Company: Stitch Editorial

Editor: Andy McGraw

Assistant Editor: Alex Tedesco

Post Producer: Chris Girard

Post Executive Producer: Juliet Batter

Visual Effects Company: The Mill

Visual Effects Executive Producer: LaRue Anderson

Flame Artists: James Allen, Glyn Tebbutt

Visual Effects Producers: Dan Roberts, Antonio Hardy

Titles, Graphics: Justin Morris

Music, Sound Company: Beacon Street Studios

Composers: John Nau, Andrew Feltenstein

Sound Designer: Mike Franklin

Songs: "Out of the Woods" ("Piano"), "The Wunder r3" ("Lightbulb")

Executive Producer: Leslie Dillullo

Mix Company: Beacon Street Studios

Mixer: Mike Franklin

Assistant Engineer: Dewey Thomas

Producer: Caitlin Rocklin