Have you ever asked yourself "What do icons Allen Iverson, Jay-Z and Lucy Liu all have in common?"


Don't worry, before you've even had the chance to dream it up, Reebok answered it in this press release today. The answer?

They are all individuals who stand out from the crowd
because they are true to themselves, challenge the status
quo and do things in their own unique way. In short, they
perfectly embody Reebok's brand position -- celebrating
individuality and authenticity -- and its new global
advertising campaign: "I Am What I Am."

I Am What I Am???

Is this a Biblical reference, as in the reply to Moses's inquiry to the burning bush? (Note: if you are ever Google image-searching for keywords "burning bush," makes sure the SafeSearch feature is on. Youch!)

Or is it a more animatedly nautical reference? Perhaps Nike should rush a "Strong to the Finish" campaign into production and out-Popeye them.

The press release contains other gems:

"The 'I Am What I Am' marketing campaign which
celebrates authenticity and individuality is both
relevant and inspiring for young consumers," said
Dennis Baldwin, Reebok's global chief marketing officer.
"We understand the struggle for today's youth
to both fit in and stand out as individuals."

Amazing and purely coincidental that this new brand strategy is launching almost exactly one year after Mr. Baldwin ascended to the position of global chief marketing officer. He looks like he understands "today's youth," doesn't he?

The "I Am What I Am" television ads feature
unique portraits of authentic celebrities.
Directed by famed director Jake Scott -- son of
legendary director Ridley Scott -- the spots reveal
the essential truths of who the celebrities are
away from the cameras.

You know... Jake Scott, the famed director of the smash epic film "Plunkett and Macleane" and a few music videos. Wow, how did they land him for this gig?

Then there is the superpower ad agency that dreamed it up. "mcgarrybowen" as they are named in a sort of e e cumming understated style, won the Reebok account in early November last year. It is just astounding that they have been able to put together such a brilliant concept in so little time.

From mcgarrybowen's press release:

Launched in 2002, the agency develops innovative
strategies and breakthrough creative solutions for
some of the world's leading companies and brands.
mcgarrybowen will work with Reebok to develop
strategy and creative that drives the overall brand
position, as well as Reebok’s sports performance initiatives.

I can't find how much the account is worth mcgarrybowen (Reebok is dropping $50 mil worldwide), but they certainly made a profit compared to what it took to come up with "celebrating individuality and authenticity" as a brand positioning statement, and "I Am What I Am" as the campaign theme.

As a USA Today story notes, each ad will show a picture of a celebrity next to some image that reveals their personal self. Visually interesting, maybe. Compelling, perhaps. Get you in a must-buy-Reeboks mood, probably not.

Maybe this differentiates them from Nike, but I doubt it. I would think they need to draw a more distinct explicit contrast between their values of individuality and authenticity, and Nike's which I would place somewhere at performance and a winning-spirit. It will be interesting to see if after six months of this planned eighteen-month campaign, they hold their course, go after Nike more fiercely, or abandon the whole thing.


Anonymous FS said...

How about an advertising campaign centered around the actual superiority of the product? I know, how naïve.

9:03 AM, February 11, 2005  
Anonymous buzz said...

I want to see an ad with AI's mother, who (during his legal proceedings for chasing his wife with a gun and locking her out of the house, naked) was on the local news every day. The woman who said AI was "keepin it really, really real." The woman who just named her new son (I'm not sure if it was with AI's daddy, but I have a guess) "Mister Allen Iverson".

That would show part of AI's life.

9:43 AM, February 11, 2005  

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