January 31, 2011
Kobe Bryant(notes) can sometimes be a tough player for Nike to market, both because he's incredibly divisive and because his media image of "relentless winner with few friends" makes him someone to be appreciated rather than identified with. Unlike Michael Jordan, he can't combine a near-psychotic need to be the best with mass appeal.
So Nike has decided to put him in a bizarre long-form commercial directed by Robert Rodriguez ("Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams," "The Adventure of Sharkboy and Lavagirl"). The second trailer can be viewed above, and it looks like classic Rodriguez: guest cameos, genre trash, and a knowing wink so everyone knows nothing is too serious. Plus, it features Kanye West, Danny Trejo, and Bruce Willis.
Rodriguez's typical reliance on ironic reproductions of old genre staples makes him an odd person to direct a commercial for Kobe, who takes everything associated with basketball fully seriously. But there's a common belief that the most enjoyable camp art relies on the actors involved taking the project as seriously as possible. In that case, Bryant is actually the perfect person for Rodriguez's approach. Now all Kobe has to do is wear cowboy hats and the two will be best friends.
Anyway, enjoy the "trailer" above. I'm not sure why ads need ads, but this is our brave new media world.