Josh Okungbaiye: Ad Review: ESPN -- It's Not Crazy, It's SportsReported by Huffington Post on Monday, 23 April 2012 (on April 23, 2012)
Wieden and Kennedy and ESPN have given us an insight into the life of an average person with a legendary name. This approach personally made me ask, 'What if my name was Michael Jordan?' In the ESPN advert we follow a man who leaves many disappointed when people find out that he is not the real Michael Jordan. At first glance I assumed that sharing a name with a legendary athlete was a gift, but soon I realized that it was a curse.
By taking a closer look at the advert I saw the protagonist's life echo the early days of Michael Jordan. It is important to note that the real Michael Jordan was once rejected because he wasn't tall enough. Parallels are further formed by the advert being filmed in Chicago (the home of Michael Jordan's team; the Chicago Bulls). I think they formed these parallels to portray to the audience how close to our identity sport teams and athletes can really be. For example, I support Arsenal FC because they are a London team with great players (Well... that's one of the reasons). Sport teams and athletes really do represent us and I think the delivery of the advert reinforces this underlying message.
Although the aim of the advert was to creatively explore the challenges of sharing a name with a famous athlete, I also think one of the objectives was to further increase the amount of viewers on ESPN. The strapline 'It's Not Crazy, It's Sports' is effective in channeling the frenzy that sports generates, particularly the big games. The strapline is also successful in communicating ESPN as a platform for us to idolize our favorite sport superstars. I know this may sound crazy, but consciously or subconsciously we idolize famous athletes and Wieden and Kennedy illustrate this frequently, particularly in the clip that depicts the waiter bringing out the best wine for Michael Jordan. I think Wieden and Kennedy took this approach because they wanted to explore our affinity with winners. In terms of a brand, we want to be associated with a winning brand. As mentioned earlier, sport teams and athletes represent us, so if they win, we win. So as we idolize them, we also idolize our connection to them. This explains why we wear our sports team jerseys with pride.
One profound thing that I noticed was that all the people from different races and social classes all knew who Michael Jordan was. I think this approach was an effort to communicate ESPN as a channel that is all inclusive and far-reaching.
Finally, the advert explores the name of a person as being a brand. It also explores that the strength of the brand can arguably indicate the quality of the product. In this case, people saw the brand (Michael Jordan), but when they saw that the product was an average man, they were disappointed. It raises questions of a brand's capability to establish positive or negative ideas pertaining to a product's quality.
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