Court Jester: Basketball Star Kevin Garnett Unleashes His Humor for New Adidas Spot

By Ebenkamp, Becky | ADWEEK, December 12, 2005 | Go to article overview

Court Jester: Basketball Star Kevin Garnett Unleashes His Humor for New Adidas Spot


Ebenkamp, Becky, ADWEEK


It's Thursday afternoon around 2 p.m., and the comedian takes the stage to start his nightclub set. But even stranger than the odd hour at which this act is delivered is the identity of the performer cracking wise in front of the club's familiar faux brick wall. It's Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Garnett, seemingly "sunlighting" as a stand-up.

This is the world of fantasy footwear advertising. For Adidas' ambitious third TV commercial starring Garnett, TBWA\Chiat\Day in San Francisco (180kTBWA) is placing the personable player into a series of roles to announce the brand's third KG signature shoe, "The Garnett 06," with a3.

The 60-second spot, which is tentatively scheduled to break Jan. 9 in the U.S., continues the brand's "Impossible is nothing" positioning and serves as a visual metaphor for the many facets of Garnett's personality that come out on the court, according to the creatives behind it.

In the first scene, a cross between Apocalypse Now and Black Hawk Down, he's a general leading his troops on a blast-filled battlefield. The scene segues to Garnett as action hero, representing his ability the make the shot and save the day. The character swings Spider-Man style across the metropolis and lands on a city street, where he morphs into a child, who represents the passion and energy he brings to the game. The urban backdrop then rolls up, and a Roman coliseum is revealed. On this playing field, gladiator Garnett showcases his incredible tenacity and all-elbows court style.

Finally, he's on stage as the comedian, because he's known--on and off-court--as a joker. The spot wraps with a dark, dramatic scene in which the 6-foot-11 athlete walks out onto an empty court and makes a shot as the player who embodies all these personalities.

"The guy is not an actor, but he understands how the characters represent what he does in the sport," says Chris Kyle, Adidas' global brand concept manager, of the natural performer. "His big personality and style are a huge part of this commercial. What he brings will ultimately make this ad."

Despite rather sophisticated scene segues, everything is pretty much on schedule on this second day of the three-day September shoot at Los Angeles Center Studios. Director Noam Murro and Sydney, Australia-based digital visual effects house Animal Logic designed a pre-vis--an animated storyboard that maps out the scenes. As they film, Garnett's and the crew's meticulously timed words and actions are compared with the pre-vis.

"The preparation is everything. It's not really a place where you can do a lot of adlibbing and stuff," says Murro, while on the set. "This ad is about how everything interlocks. …

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