A stylish and energetic new ad, seemingly inspired by the pantheon of big sports marketer advertising, poses a challenge to viewers. In scene after scene, kids with serious swagger walk through the streets while addressing the camera and fiercely throwing down the gauntlet: "Think you got the game?"
While the spot feels as if it's straight out of a Nike or Adidas playbook, it's actually promoting sports website Bleacher Report. Directed by Fredrik Bond, tt's the brand's first big work out of its first agency, Johannes Leonardo.
The ad goes on to explain what "game" is, and what's needed to "Up Your Game," as the tag goes. That requires a grasp of not only style, statement, flash, shoes but also of culture and history. Peppered throughout are cameos of sports pros and vets including former NBA star Allen Iverson and the Oakland Raiders' Marquette King.
While Bleacher Report has "been around for over a decade, they have never actually positioned themselves," said Johannes Leonardo Co-Founder Jan Jacobs. The agency set out to communicate what the brand stood for "and why would someone go to them vs. ESPN."
The ad's concept indeed paints a holistic cultural portrait of the sports world, with references to everything from kicks to athletic legends. "Modern fandom is about so much more than the game itself," said Jacobs. "The web and social has opened up the players' lives to the masses, so that water cooler chat has moved way beyond last night's game, and who made what play. That is really the difference between them and ESPN. So our idea is simply a definition of what it means to be a modern sports fan: that in order to fully get the game, you also have to get all the cultural nuances surrounding the game."
"We didn't approach the work with any aesthetic in mind," Jacobs said about the spot's style. "Rather, we wanted to deliver the brand positioning in a tone and manner the B/R audience appreciates and expects -- and that's entertainment. It's their DNA. The approach was really an effort to define a platform idea for the brand."