Back in 2001, BMW created a collection of eight short films called The Hire, starring Clive Owen and directed by a murderer's row of directing talent, including Guy Ritchie, John Frankenheimer, Tony Scott, Alejandro González Iñárritu, and more, and in the process set the gold standard for a new fangled marketing bauble called branded content. This week marks its return and . . . it actually doesn't disappoint! Which, in an age of ho-hum sequels and unwanted reboots, is about as good as it gets. Onward!
What: A new Nike ad starring LeBron James giving a tough pep talk for the brand's "Come Out of Nowhere" campaign to kick off the NBA season
Who: Nike, Wieden+Kennedy Portland
Why We Care: No one would mistake LeBron James as an underdog, but here he uses the struggle stories of players all over the world to illustrate his own insecurities and battles on the way to becoming a superstar.
What: A PSA campaign to getting more girls into baseball
Who: Baseball for All, BBDO Atlanta
Why We Care: While Fox's Pitch is in its first season, giving us a fictional glimpse of what the first female pitcher in Major League Baseball might look like. (Read more about that in our interview with series co-creator Rick Singer.) But so far in reality, while baseball starts out strong across both genders, at a certain age, girls are pushed out, toward softball and other sports. Even Mo'ne Davis, the fast-pitching Little League World Series star from 2014, has shifted her focus to basketball now that she's 15. But this PSA defiantly illustrates that passion for the sport doesn't have to be separated along gender lines.
What: New Under Armour ad for Steph Curry's latest signature shoe that would rather not dwell on old news
Who: Under Armour, Droga5
Why We Care: Here Steph Curry is essentially looking to really wipe last season from our memory, Men in Black-style, by lumping the Warriors NBA title loss into the same ol', same ol' tales of his unexpected rise to the top of the superstar charts, and now just wanting to move on. It's a stylish spot from director Harmony Korine—with the eclectic casting you'd expect from the guy behind Gummo—and keeps the brand's darkness theme alive and well.
What: The weirdest online cooking/wildlife show ever created
Who: Geico, The Martin Agency
Why We Care: The is a bit of a curveball because, no, raccoons have nothing to do with insurance. And yeah, the TV spot for this campaign is funny (if only because it gives us a moment to wistfully remember The Great Outdoors) but these online "cooking" shows are GOLD. There's just nothing better than grandma's famous dumpster pumpkin pie.
What: The new BMW Films project, The Escape
Who: BMW, Geisel Productions, Anonymous Content, Neil Blomkamp
Why We Care: Even if it wasn't as fun as it is, this project not only marks the return of Clive Owen behind the wheel of a BMW branded content film, but a welcome next step for a groundbreaking piece of modern marketing.