It says a lot about LeBron James' summer that this is the most anticipated Nike commercial since Nike's Tiger Woods ad debuted earlier this year. Click here watch the new commercial on YouTube, where Nike's brilliant ad agency, Widen & Kennedy, offered this explanation:
This isn't about what LeBron James has done, or hasn't done. This is about the difference between the expectations others may have of him versus the expectations he has of himself. What should he do? The answer is a question.
Here, unlike Tiger's contrition, we get full-on confrontation—the ad addresses nearly every criticism of James this summer. From Charles Barkley's vocal criticism, to those doubting his friends, to the people calling him a villain. And at the end, it all melts away with a simple question, when LeBron asks: "Should I be who you want me to be?"
Or, to put it differently: Do we chastise LeBron for who he is, or because he's not who we want him to be? Nike wants us to believe it's the second, and the ad does a nice job making that option look sexy. And, hey, did someone say sexy? Uh-oh...
That's Don Johnson's cue!
Ahhh... A look that says, "Sup ladies? You like Nash Bridges royalties and cigarettes?"
Regardless of whether you buy what Nike's selling here—the idea that LeBron was a victim of our expectations for him—it's hard to dispute that they did a good job selling it. The commercial's cool, full of colorful imagery, and it takes a deeply nuanced situation and asks exactly the right questions in the aftermath. So, Nike wins. But of course they do. Could have been an ad for LeBron, Tiger, Kobe... anyone. You just can't go wrong with a Don Johnson cameo.