Posted by Ben Golliver.
Athletic apparel manufacturer Under Armour has struggle to find its footing in the basketball footwear marketplace. During the lockout, the company stooped to shock value and subliminals to pitch its wares, making an ad that took shots at sneaker rivals Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James and then doubling-down by making an anti-Kobe t-shirt.
Finally, the company has crafted a true advertising success, by putting aside the smack talk and focusing instead on the strengths of its most well-known endorser: Milwaukee Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings. With a flashy game, no-nonsense fearlessness and bubbly personality, Jennings is a marketer's dream, and the fact that he's from Compton, arguably America's most recognizable inner-city community, only adds to his aura.
In a two-minute ad based on a new "Are you from here?" campaign, Jennings provides a spoken-word voiceover as the viewer is treated to a video tour of Compton, a California neighborhood first made nationally famous by rappers in the early-1990s and home to fellow NBAers Baron Davis, Tyson Chandler, DeMar DeRozan and Arron Afflalo.
"I'm from a place that says 1,000 things in two syllables, Jennings says slowly. "It is iconic. Known and respected. Proud. Defiant. I'm from a place that won't let you go anywhere unless you prove what you're really made of. Being from here holds a certain weight. it means something. It means no matter how thick the wall, I already have the tools needed to tear it down. No matter how hard the struggle, I've already endured worse. And no matter what the critics say, I already have the skin thick enough to shake it off."
The focus throughout is on the benefits of that upbringing: toughness, experience, wisdom, credibility.
"Being from Compton means I will survive through the night," Jennings continues, as the visual transitions into shots of him working out in the gym and playing in pick-up games. "I'm from a place where the streets are filled with chance and choice, and you're always one wrong move from losing it all. A place that will push the limits of your soul and uncover the fight in your heart. I'm from a place where greatness is born through fearless vision and unconditional devotion. Where excellence is attained through heated competition and unrelenting sacrifice. So no matter where I go, I always stay grounded in a state of here. Are you from here?"
As is rarely the case in sneaker ads, the tagline fits perfectly with the overall pitch. The Compton portrayed in in the ad contradicts or spins negative stereotypes by painting a textured picture that appeals to the competitor in every athlete. "Are you from here?" asks the viewer to reflect on his or her own life experiences while presenting Under Armour sneakers as the go-to kicks for survivors, Warriors and thinkers. That's about as effective as sneaker commercials get.
Video via YouTube user underarmour.