December 02, 2010
The fine folks at Dime had this clip last week, but it got caught up in the travel-and-tryptophan haze of the Thanksgiving whirlwind. So we find ourselves playing catchup with Dwight Howard(notes) popping up from underground at 34th Street in Manhattan and, apropos of nothing (save viral marketing), playing "NBA Jam" on an Xbox-360-cum-arcade-cabinet with random passersby on the streets of New York.
Obviously, the entire point of making a clip like this is for what's happening right now to happen — for people to share it, smile at it, snicker at it, above all else watch it and, in the process, promote the two brands up for sale ("NBA Jam, The Super Fun Video Game!" and "Dwight Howard, The Super Fun Athlete!"). And sometimes that feels gross and lame and problematic and difficult. When that's the case, we should either A) not share/write about/post those craven attempts at attention-grabbing or B) call them out for what they are, grit our teeth at the knowledge that doing so does exactly what the makers intended by shining more light, and just hope that the light we're shining is sunlight, which I've been told is the best disinfectant.
To the extent that this feels like anything, though, it feels harmless, because what it's selling is a game that most of my generation has always spoken of in reverential tones. Plus, it puts Dwight Howard in exactly the kind of position in which he can successfully perpetuate the public image that he's crafted thus far — drop him onto a city block with a video game, let the crowd come to him, let him roar and high-five and smile and be all the things everyone enjoys him being, and show off a bunch of CG dunks.
There's not really any content here, and marketing's always less fun when you can clearly see the strings, but hey, it's 94 seconds of fun. A little post-lunch dessert for your basketball Thursday, plus a neat little reminder that there's surely someone on your holiday shopping list who would enjoy doing some boomshakalaka-ing of their own this winter.