Watching NBA players launch a full-court press? Predictable. Watching them in commercials riding an inflatable yacht? Interest piqued.
In their “Approved” ad campaign, Foot Locker and agency BBDO New York draft basketball stars for commercials that show off the sports retailer’s freshest gear. In one of the spots, Oklahoma City guard Russell Westbrook tests the Foot Locker loyalty of famously bushy-faced teammate James Harden. Slam dunk for Harden, who not only tears away layer after layer of Foot Locker-approved outfits, but pulls off the same trick with his beard. The campaign’s running gag is showing the fantastical lengths even the biggest athletes take to keep their threads and kicks as sick as possible.
Other pros lined up on the campaign’s roster include New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (who also broke records as an Olympian this month in London), Miami Heat forward Chris Bosh, and Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love, who joins Harden atop a giant blow-up boat, so as to keep their Foot Locker loot from getting wet in a pool.
The campaign struck a chord with viewers and was a trending topic on Twitter when it debuted and the likes of Lebron James (nearly 6 million followers) and Carmelo Anthony (2.5 million followers) spread the word.
The boys’ deadpan delivery and straight faces is part of the appeal of the campaign, say BBDO New York Senior Creative Directors Chris Beresford-Hill and Dan Lucey.
“We wanted to make sure we treated them like athletes, not actors,” they say. “These guys perform at the highest level of sport, but they are not trained in the art of improvisational comedy dialogue acting. That seems obvious, but when you’re reviewing script after script, you have to remind yourselves that these guys are in the middle of practicing with the Team USA squad, not running lines in a trailer.”
There are over 120 “Approved” items, ranging from Jordan 1 Flight sneakers to graphic tees.