For many fans, basketball is like a religion, its greatest stars like deities. Bill Simmons may have anointed the Basketball Jesus, but a new Nike campaign in China made the case for Kobe Bryant to be more like Buddha. (Hey, he does meditate.)
The Deadly Quickness was a three-pronged marketing campaign to promote the launch of the Kobe X shoe that began with standard billboards and ads. Phase Two was a mobile game inspired by those the U.S. military uses to select pilots, with three quick puzzles to test mental reflexes, analytical power, and problem-solving skills. More than 300,000 players tried it the first day, with only a small handful passing the test. By March 23, more than 15 million kids had played to test their Deadly Quickness.
Finally, the brand transformed a Shanghai art space into its Deadly Quickness Temple, a basketball experience proclaiming to be a window into Kobe’s mind. But it was also a physical testing ground for challenging players’ fortitude. After passing through a Black Mamba snake’s mouth, into a tunnel covered in what Nike calls “scriptures of Kobe’s Art of Deadly Quickness basketball doctrines,” players arrived at a door guarded by black-robed monks. Players were given a fresh pair of Kobe X kicks to complete a set of five physical tests, including quick-stepping to light up a room, silently navigating a maze of bells, shot precision, a one-on-one game, and more. About 650 players got into the Temple, and, according to the brand, their efforts reached more than 3.2 million people through social posts on Weibo and WeChat.
Sure, Bryant and the Lakers look anything but immortal right now, but that’s not the Kobe being worshipped here. Sort of like Fat Jolly Buddha versus Skinny Warrior Buddha.