First-time Super Bowl advertiser Converse takes viewers on a surreal journey, courtesy of Houston, Effler & Partners in Boston. The ad ranked 10th on that year's USA Today Ad Meter, which surveys Super Bowl viewers on which ads entertained them the most.
The ad was a continuation of Converse and Houston, Effler's campaign starring Larry Johnson, the top pick in the NBA's 1993 draft, as "Grandmama."
Pete Favat, who worked on the campaign at Houston, Effler and went on to become chief creative officer at Deutsch North America, recalled its genesis for Ad Age:
Converse had just come out with Aeroglide shoe and it was the most lightweight shoe they’d ever made. It was so light, in fact, we thought anyone could beat a pro basketball player if they were wearing these shoes. So we came up with, “This new shoe is so light and so fast my Grandmama could whoop you in it.”
At that time, we were getting so tired of shooting slam dunks for every spot -- every client in the category wanted slam dunks, and they wanted a lot of them. Michael Jordan. Magic Johnson. Seven or so dunks per commercial. So we thought, how do we disrupt the slam dunk? Have a 6’5” old lady do the dunking.
The idea for the Super Bowl spot was this: Larry Johnson (who played Grandmama) was really good at 3-point shots. So, we created 3-Point Land and modeled it after The Wizard of Oz.
The spot was directed by Steve Marr (of then Palomar Pictures,) and opened with a tornado dropping Grandmama into 3-Point Land. She’s greeted by a team of little people basketball players and Jerry Maren who was at the time, the only living member of the Wizard of Oz cast. Jerry played the referee and ruler of 3-Point land. Johnson appeared in the sky like Glinda the Good Witch and sent down a pair of BackJam shoes (instead of red slippers), allowing Grandmama to rocket home.
AGENCY: Houston, Effler & Partners
QUARTER AIRED: Q1