72andSunny, with offices in L.A., New York and Amsterdam, was named in 2015 as the global agency for Adidas' sports business. This basketball spot, created out of the agency's L.A. and New York offices, is the agency's first work for the China market.
Titled "One in a Billion," it begins from bird's-eye view, looking down on a group of young men in red uniforms going through basketball drills, their dribbles synched, in robotic unison -- so much so that they almost seem like clones of each other -- and even recall spots of one of the brand's biggest competitors, Under Armour.
The men here, however, are all distinct individuals, and one of them decides to veer from the mold and do his own thing. He breaks pattern and throws out some of his own moves, inspiring others to do the same, scattering the perfect, army-like formation of the group.
Their outbreak of creativity spreads across the city, inspiring other athletes to do the same -- a soccer player on a bus, a beach volleyball player, a marathon runner and finally, a ballerina, who brings the first b-ball player's ball into her new routine.
The similarity of scenes makes you wonder if Adidas is making a dig at Under Armour, but the messages are quite different. Under Armour's robotic armies of one drove home the message "Rule Yourself," while globally, Adidas has been positioning itself as the brand for creative athletes. This ad is part of that effort and is about breaking out of the mold in China, where most people's first experience of sports is doing boring calisthenics en masse in the schoolyard. "Among a billion in China, there is only one you," the intro says. "Your creativity is what sets you apart in sport and in life."
Unexpectedly, there's a David Beckham cameo midway through, with a suspicious, CG-like sheen. He's known in China as Xiao Bei, or "Little Beckham."
TBWA Shanghai also has done work for Adidas' "I'm here to create" global platform, including its 2016 campaign for women. Watch that spot here.
Sports have been taking off lately in China as people in polluted megacities start to get more health-conscious, and brands like Adidas and Nike have benefited.