Caps are crowns and a concrete jungle is the kingdom in New Era's new campaign, the hatmaker's first from 72andSunny. Timed to coincide with the start of Major League Baseball season, "We Who Reign" debuts on Thursday.
The new push, which includes a 90-second digital anthem spot, stars athletes such as José Altuve of the Houston Astros and Robinson Cano of the Seattle Mariners, as well as hip-hop artists Dave East and Rich the Kid.
"We wanted to celebrate the whole juxtaposition of sport and street culture. We were looking for something visually exciting and emotional," says Mark Maidment, senior VP of brand at Buffalo-based New Era Cap.
In the spot, cap-wearing athletes and artists are interspersed with crowns and thrones. "This crown represents something greater than your name—it's your city, it's your family, your empire," says a voiceover performed by Rakim.
New Era, which has seven flagship stores globally, began working with 72andSunny roughly nine months ago. The agency's job was to get "the New Era authentic collection fitted into a broader cultural conversation beyond baseball," says Bryan Rowles, executive creative director and partner at 72andSunny. He notes that the campaign promotes towns as modern-day kingdoms—a Yankees hat, for example, doesn't say "Y" for the team, but "NY" for New York.
This is New Era's biggest campaign in five years by monetary investment, according to Maidment, who says that the 2018 budget is slightly higher than 2017's but that the dollars are less spread out. In 2017, New Era spent $1.3 million on measured media in the U.S., according to Kantar Media.
"We Who Reign" follows a previous internal concept, "This is the Cap," which ran for roughly two years, and replaced "Fly Your Own Flag." It includes a 30-second TV spot, 15-second digital videos and stills in addition to the 90-second clip.
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CORRECTION: Mark Maidment is the senior VP of brand at New Era Cap and Rakim performed the voiceover for the brand's new spot. This information was misstated in an earlier version.