LeBron Goes Back Home To Akron With Beats

The Chosen One and his mom take us on a tour of his childhood hometown in this new campaign.

“Before anyone ever cared where I would play basketball, I was a kid from Northeast Ohio. It’s where I walked. It’s where I ran. It’s where I cried. It’s where I bled. It holds a special place in my heart. People there have seen me grow up. I sometimes feel like I’m their son.”


Those are the first lines in LeBron James’s essay in Sports Illustrated announcing his decision to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers. It’s an homage to his hometown. Beyond basketball, James’s passion for Ohio is the star of this essay.

Now it’s the star of a new campaign for Apple’s Beats Electronics by agency R/GA called “Re-Established 2014,” a nod to James’s shoulder tattoo “Akron Est. 1984.” Here, backed by the track “Take Me to Church” by Hozier, we see LeBron working and sweating to get ready for this season, as his mother Gloria James narrates over shots of Akron, as well as LeBron’s childhood homes and schools.

A series of shorter spots, narrated by LeBron and his mom, talk about things like how much the city of Akron means to him, what it was like growing up and going to a predominantly white high school, and how much of an influence his mom has been on his life.

It’s a stylish continuation of Beats impressive run of sporty emo-adrenaline ads that are, as we’ve said before, a direct descendant of the School of Swoosh.

Towards the end of his decision essay, James comes back to Akron’s role in his decision. “I feel my calling here goes above basketball. I have a responsibility to lead, in more ways than one, and I take that very seriously. My presence can make a difference in Miami, but I think it can mean more where I’m from. I want kids in Northeast Ohio, like the hundreds of Akron third-graders I sponsor through my foundation, to realize that there’s no better place to grow up.”

It’s a great story, the kind marketers dream about for good reason–as this new campaign proves, it makes for one hell of an ad.


About the author

Jeff Beer is a staff editor at Fast Company, covering advertising, marketing, and brand creativity. He lives in Toronto.