Kobe Bryant Is a Maestro to the End in Nike’s Quirky Musical Sendoff ‘The Conductor’

W+K spot balances comedy and respect

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Advertisers have been saying goodbye to Kobe Byrant, who plays his final NBA game on Wednesday night, with either comedy or drama.

But Nike, which has always prided itself at balancing both, offers a mix in "The Conductor," a just-released spot that portrays the retiring 37-year-old Laker as an orchestra conductor fully in control of an arena of players, coaches and unruly fans—lovers and haters alike.

The spot, created by Wieden + Kennedy in Portland, Ore., and directed by Mark Romanek, also features Phil Jackson, Paul Pierce, Rasheed Wallace, Benny the Bull and fans representing nine basketball teams.

Check it out here:

As in Nike's earlier tribute to Bryant, starring the brand's other endorsers, the theme here is the love and hate that Bryant has experienced over the years—depicted in the new spot by the "symphony of cheers and jeers" across the stadium, as Nike puts it.

The spot has a goofy theatricality to it that actually recalls W+K's Old Spice work, particularly the "Momsong" and "Dadsong" spots, which were also musicals. But while it walks that line, "The Conductor" is also clearly not a parody—but rather illustrates "how hate has manifested into respect and admiration for Bryant," Nike says. 

Beginning at tipoff tonight, fans will also be able to customize and purchase a limited-edition of the KOBE 11 Mamba Day NIKEiD shoe. The final NIKEiD shoe of his pro career will feature a graphic highlighting eight notable career stats (see below).

We'll have more on Bryant's retirement, and marketers' handling of it, later today.


Client: Nike

Project: The Conductor

Agency: Wieden + Kennedy, Portland, Ore.

Creative Directors: Alberto Ponte and Ryan O’Rourke

Copywriter: Josh Bogdan and Nathaniel Friedman

Art Director: Jacob Weinstein

Producer: Matt Hunnicutt /Molly Tait Tanen/Mauricio Granado

Director: Mark Romanek

Production Company: Anonymous Content

Executive Producers: SueEllen Clair, Eric Stern

Producer: James Graves

Director of Photography: Greig Fraser

Editorial Company: Exile

Editor: Eric Zumbrunnen

Post Producer: Brittany Carson

Post Executive Producer: CL Weaver

VFX Company: MPC LA

VFX Supervisor: Michael Gregory

Lead Compositor: Brian Williams

Executive Producer: Lexi Stearn

VFX Producer: Brian Friel

Colorist: Mark Gethin

Music+Sound Company: Beacon Street Studios

Composer: Andrew Feltenstein & John Nau

Sound Designer: Rommel Molina

Song (if applicable): "I’ve Been Hating You Too Long To Stop Now"

Producer: Leslie DiLullo

Mix Company: Beacon Street Studios

Mixer: Rommel Molina

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@nudd Tim Nudd is a former creative editor of Adweek.