For Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Amusement Park is working with National Basketball League All-Star Damian Lillard to premiere his latest music video for "Bigger Than Us," a song focused on bridging racial divides and promoting peace.
The agency not only created the music video, it co-owns the song. Other co-owners include Mr. Lillard, known as Dame D.O.L.L.A (Different On Levels the Lord Allows), Harman International Industries, producer John Alexis and musicians Bootsy Collins and Paul Rey.
Dame D.O.L.L.A's music video, which includes recent news clips and footage of protestors, will debut during a one-hour NBA Tip-Off presented by Autotrader on TNT with host Ernie Johnson and analysts Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O'Neal. The show, shot live from Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta at 7 p.m., follows a doubleheader and precedes a rematch of last season's NBA Finals between the Warriors and Cavaliers. In addition to "Bigger Than Us," the TNT pregame coverage includes interviews with two of Dr. King's children, civil rights activist and former ambassador Andrew Young, basketball Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Congressman John
"The feeling was that the song is so very socially conscious and so representative of everything Dr. King stood for, that it just made sense to release the music video on his day," said Amusement Park Chief Creative Officer and Chairman Jimmy Smith. "The goal of the song and the music video is to -- God willing -- move America closer to Dr. King's dream."
In addition to its involvement with Dame's new music video, Amusement Park worked on a branded content piece entitled "Listen in Color" for JBL speakers, which featured Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry. The video premiered on Christmas Day during the ABC broadcast of the Golden State Warriors vs. Cleveland Cavaliers and included Dame's "Bigger Than Us" as the soundtrack.
The work on "Listen in Color" and "Bigger Than Us" highlights the collaboration between Amusement Park Entertainment and sibling agency Amusement Park. Mr. Smith, an agency veteran known for such projects as Nike "Battlegrounds" and Gatorade "Replay," launched Amusement Park Entertainment, a co-venture with IPG focused on transmedia storytelling and branded content, in 2011. This past March, he opened full-service agency Amusement Park as a separate company with the same culture as its entertainment counterpart.
Mr. Smith said the idea from the beginning for Amusement Park was for the company to own or co-own what it creates, a feat made simpler since most of the shop's creative team – who also happen to be family members – are in the entertainment business.
Poetri Smith, Jimmy Smith's brother, is a Tony Award-winning poet and serves as director of creative development at the agency. Mr. Smith's sister, Deirdre, has experience as a singer, actress, writer, producer, director, choreographer and casting director, and is Amusement Park's director of creative development and executive producer.
Mr. Smith's wife, Smoke, is also involved in the company as his assistant and controller, while his sons Sequel and Rel write and direct. Chief Financial Officer Bobby Ware may not be officially related, but Mr. Smith said he's a "blood brother," who he's known since his teens.
While working with family members has its challenging moments, Mr. Smith said "they do respect that I'm the boss," so they're able to overcome obstacles.
He added that Amusement Park's black family-owned general market nature makes the agency "quite rare."
Ralph Santana, global chief marketing officer of Harman International Industries, said the fact that the company worked with two black family-owned businesses, Amusement Park and Goodwin Sports Management, which represents Dame, didn't even enter his mind at first.
"We evaluate companies based on the content of their character and whether they can help our business. Both businesses fit the bill. That was Dr. King's dream," added Mr. Santana.