NBA superstar and Brooklyn Nets power forward Kevin Garnett is the star of the latest Beats by Dr. Dre TV ad. And just like on the court, the action gets intense.
In a TV spot [see below] that broke last night, screaming rival fans wave derogatory signs and curse, throw eggs or drinks, and even spit at the bus driving into the unnamed underground arena entrance. It's all aimed at the 19-year veteran Garnett on game day and the abuse continues as he walks through a tunnel to the locker room.
While no arena is ever shown or the opposing NBA team named, it's clear by the short bus ride and the blue-and-orange color schemes worn by the opposing foul-mouthed fans that they're New York Knicks supporters. And they've got nothing nice to say about an over-the-hill (one fan brandishes a walker at Mr. Garnett) former Boston Celtic now playing for the cross-river rivals in Brooklyn.
Mr. Garnett sits in stone-faced silence on the bus for the first part of the torment, but then slides on his Beats wireless headphones, which immediately shuts out the noise. The song, a new track from R&B singer Aloe Blaac called "The Man," begins, taking over the jeers with the lyrics "You can tell everybody, yeah, you can tell everybody, go ahead and tell everybody. I'm the man, I'm the man, I'm the man." As Mr. Garnett walks the tunnel, and stares intently ahead listening to the music while fans are still seen shouting and making gestures, he breaks a faint smile.
Shot in :30 and :60 formats that will run on TV and a three-minute director's cut for online, the ads were done by well-known music video director Paul Hunter. This first ad will be followed by a second one with San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, using a similar theme of rival-fan intensity.
Both are the first in a planned series of Beats ads featuring athletes using Beats Studio headphones that will run through Super Bowl, although the upcoming ads won't be as dark.
"Everything from that commercial has happened to an athlete," said Beats Exec VP and Global Head of Marketing Omar Johnson. "We've shown it to a lot of our athletes and they all say, 'Wow, I've experienced that and no one has told that story.' The one thing we've landed on with this is that it's real. . . . [Mr. Garnett] would say that's a typical game day at a rival arena."
The headphones play the hero in the ads, blocking out the vitriol, but also focus the athlete in preparing for play. In a behind-the-scenes video, Mr. Garnett agrees, saying, "When I have my headphones I'm into whatever I'm listening to and in some ways it's like yoga or meditation. Music is very important, not just in sports but in life."
While the theme is sports, Mr. Johnson said he thinks everyone will be able to relate to the message. People face challenges and distractions every day at work or home or school and music can help provide that focus.
"I know when I'm going in to work to an important meeting, about three blocks out from the office, I'll put on music to take that time to focus and concentrate," he said.
View the director's cut here: