While Anthony Davis has not been named as a West All-Star — at least until the NBA names injury replacements — there's no discounting that he's becoming a legitimate star. In his second season, the New Orleans Pelicans power forward has improved in every aspect, averaging 20.4 points, 10.5 rebounds, and a league-best 3.4 blocks per game while taking on more responsibilities at both ends and developing into the best transition big man in the sport. At only 20 years old, Davis seems to have few limits on his future. He could become one of the best players in the NBA very soon.
Not surprisingly, Davis is also becoming more of a national figure. On Friday, we showed you his new ad for Kids Foot Locker, in which Davis interrupts a young boy's playground dreams by swatting a shot and starting his own triumphant play-by-play. Now, Foot Locker (for adults) has released a new spot in which Houston Rockets guard James Harden, an established endorser for the brand, goes undercover as Davis — and is eventually played by Davis in costume as Harden as Davis, if that makes sense — so that he can shop without being recognized. It's cute, and funny, and very clever.
The joke here, apart from seeing Davis in quasi-costume as Harden, is that Davis isn't famous enough to be noticed in public (even if his unibrow is famous enough that it can serve as a sight gag in the same commercial). In a way, that's also the premise of the Kids Foot Locker spot, what with its reliance on the idea of Davis living out dreams off the professional court because he's not yet established enough to achieve them in real life. It's a form of meta-advertising — Davis is being introduced to a national audience with the message that he needs to be introduced to a national audience. Foot Locker has some experience with this kind of self-reflexive messaging, most notably with respect to Blake Griffin's willingness to advertise anything, and it works here, too. Davis appears to have Griffin's same gift of self-awareness.
The question, I suppose, is at what point Davis begins to develop a unique brand specific to his personality, not a general advertising strategy that references his lack of exposure. On the court, Davis stands out as one of the most versatile and special talents around — there's just no one else like him in the sport right now. Hopefully, when he becomes a bigger name, he'll get an image that matches his revolutionary skillset.
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