If you’ve watched any amount of NBA in the last few months, chances are pretty good that in between game action, you’ve seen a whole lot of one very tall man in a red tracksuit traveling back in time to give younger versions of himself some valuable career and fashion advice, set to period pop hits of the time. That very tall man is of course All-Star Clippers forward Blake Griffin, and the context is the recent KIA series featuring Blake “time traveling” in his Kia Optima to ride mechanical convenience store steeds and make fun of jean shorts. The campaign has turned into a favorite for many an NBA fan, due to its absurd humor, impressive eye for detail, and above all else, Blake’s bone-dry sense of humor and impeccable comedic timing.
The man most responsible for the ads is probably Colin Jeffery, Executive Creative Director of the David & Goliath agency, behind not only this Blake campaign, but also the “UVO, Play Funk” Blake ads you might remember from last season, and such other campaigns like the “This or That” Kia Soul ads with the hamsters set to Black Sheep’s “The Choice is Yours.” But the time travel campaign might be Jeffery’s greatest work, and certainly one of the most creative and legitimately funny ad campagins of recent years.
I talked with Jeffery for a bit to ask him some questions I had about some of the ads’ finer points, to satisfy my own curiosity, if nothing else. (And check out Kevin Arnovitz’s fine article on the campaign on the TrueHoop network for a look at some of the commercial’s more technical aspects.)
TBJ: So what was the genesis moment for the ads? How did the time travel idea come about?
Jeffery: Well, this is obviously the second campaign we worked on, with Kia Optima teaming up with Blake Griffin. We really worked off the same strategy for both. When Kia signed Blake Griffin, the idea was that he’s this kind of new-age sportsman, he’s got this kind of Challenger vibe to him. He kind of burst onto the scene. He handles himself very differently [than other players] both on and off the courts. He’s kind of this clean-cut guy, with Oklahoma roots … and his game, he’s got this flair and energy to his game, and Kia sees themselves as similar — exploded onto the scene, had a rapid growth rate. From the outset, we saw this as an opportunity to do things differently with these two brands, since they both do things differently.
The genesis comes from strategy “Not your average mid-size sedan, not your average spokesman.” We challenged ourselves creatively and internally to come up with a spokesman that doesn’t feel like your classic spokesman’s work. Usually with spokesmen, it’s a tenuous link back to the product, but in this case, they fit quite well, actually, They’re both kinda young, new brands.
The idea came about … we spent a lot of time with Blake, we’d kind of sit down and throw around ideas with him, see what resonates with him. He talks a lot about his childhood — he’s very close to his brother, and they were quite competitive as kids. He talks fondly of his childhood, and we kinda got into that a bit. He has a lot of regrets, and one of them, he said “Yeah, I wore jean shorts a lot! I really regret it! If I could go back…’” And then we talked about the gym he and his brother used to work out in together, I kinda jotted that one down, and then the scripts just kinda came along from there. It just seemed like an unexpected way to use the spokesman, to go back in time, and creatively there was a lot we could do with that.
Read the rest of this entry »