Reebok, known lately as RBK, is adding more star power to their "I Am What I Am" campaign, created by New York advertising agency mcgarrybowen. Monday they announced they will be adding actors Christina Ricci and John Leguizamo, Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, and NFL Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb to their campaign.
The "I Am What I Am" is the company's largest advertising spend in nearly a decade. The concept behind the campaign is to encourage young people to embrace their own individuality by celebrating their contemporary heroes including music icons, athletes and entertainers.
"Reebok has definitely struck a chord with our 'I Am What I Am' brand message," said Brian Povinelli, Reebok's vice president of global integrated marketing. "Being aspirational and inspirational is key to the campaign's success. Christina, John, Curt and Donovan have intriguing stories to share and they truly embody our brand attributes of authenticity and individuality."
The ads give each celebrity the opportunity to break through the fiction that surrounds their public persona.
I think it's is walking a funny line because to be an individual, you don't follow the crowd or what the "hip" kids are doing. And yet this campaign is encouraging folks to follow the rich and famous. And what's individual about the entire NFL wearing Reebok? It was also the point of the parent group that boycotted 50 cent's TV ad which eventually went into the ol' bannage bin. Ads that want to talk individuality run the risk of coming off as "self-important" bologna.
The press release claims "the ads give each celebrity the opportunity to break through the fiction that surrounds their public persona." But so much of celebrities fame is based on a fiction that is created by a long line of PR and image folks. Is this something that we can really believe as authentic?
One also has to wonder if they are really direct quotes by the celebs or if they are something crafted by a copywriter. And the same for the copy in the TV spots. Did Iverson really sit down and write that? Somehow I doubt it. It's probably more fesiable for them to have said the quotes in the print pieces.
Overall the design of the campaign is great. But it feels as if the quotes just sort of hang there. And in the billboards without the quotes, the ads just become portrait shots with the RBK logo. For those who have seen the TV or the other parts to the campaign it works, but for anyone who doesn't know of the other ads, it says nothing.
One thing I found very interesting, and maybe the best part of the whole sheebang, is that Reebok is going to launch an online forum where the average Joe can create their own "I Am What I Am" ads. They can also nominate someone who they feel truly embodies the campaign message. Now that speaks to individuality, probably stronger than the celeb ads.
The campaign broke globally in February and has featured Lucy Liu, Allen Iverson, Kelly Holmes, Jay-Z, Yao Ming, Nicole Vaidisova, 50 Cent, Stevie Williams, and Iker Casillas among others.
Copy: "There's gonna be a million people that love Allen Iverson. There's gonna be a billion people that hate Allen Iverson. Concentrate on the ones that care about you and keep steppin'." - Allen Iverson
Copy: "I'm happy that there are commercials and billboards that show me smiling. They do what I can't-smile 24 hours a day." - Yao Ming
Copy: "I try to believe like I believed when I was five...when your heart tells you everything you need to know."- Lucy Lui