Jimmy Butler–despite a summer of bizarre trade rumors–is the face of the Chicago Bulls. He’s also now the face of Bonobos, the hip menswear brand that sells its clothes primarily online, with a series of retail “guideshops” around the country that allow customers to try on clothes for style and fit before ordering them off of the internet.
Bonobos hasn’t done much traditional advertising before, but they’re launching their first broad campaign in mid-September, featuring Butler in a way that showcases the superstar’s weird–yet fashionable–side. The campaign is built around Butler’s personality, with the star delivering a monologue that opens with typical sports-hero cliches like “I refuse to let myself be limited” and “there’s a whole world just outside my comfort zone,” before explaining what that means: “I walk the walk of a man who isn’t afraid to wear floral.” From there, Butler cuts loose–he checks out his reflection in a spoon while the waitress in a sleek restaurant stares at him, he dunks in a tweed blazer and air tie, and he quotes 13th century Persian poet Rumi as a justification for going out for ice cream. It’s neither your typical men’s clothing ad, nor your typical NBA endorsement, and that’s exactly what appealed to Butler about the campaign.
“I couldn’t have been more on board,” Butler says about the ad’s tone. “The ad was a collaborative project between myself, [ad agency] Preacher, and Bonobos. We all knew that in order to make this great, it had to feel right to each of us. I like to have fun with what I wear, and I easily found my fit in their clothes. Bonobos wanted to take who I am as a person, and share that with the world in a way that overlaps with what they stand for as a brand. I think the end result shows a little swagger, a lot of personality, and admits that you can’t take yourself too seriously.”
The campaign will feature TV and digital ads, as well as print and outdoor advertising in Houston, Atlanta, and–of course–Chicago. (And not Oklahoma City or Sacramento, so squash those trade rumors!) In addition to the spots, Butler also curated a selection of Bonobos pieces himself, which customers will be able to shop online when the campaign launches. That makes sense, because as a brand ambassador, Butler is fairly passionate about Bonobos. That means something from him–he took a reported 75% pay cut to leave his Adidas endorsement to join Nike’s Team Jordan because he preferred the shoes–and that’s the sort of authenticity that means a lot to a brand like Bonobos.
“I’m a tall guy,” Butler says. “Dressing has always been a huge pain, and it’s tough to find stuff I actually like to wear, versus what just fits me. I found out about Bonobos through friends, and I was amazed at how well it fit. Then I shopped in one of the Guideshops and the experience couldn’t have been easier, I was hooked. From there, we both felt there was an opportunity to do something cool together, and it really just took off.”
Bonobos is clearly investing a lot in Butler, and it sounds like Butler is invested, too. The campaign, and Butler’s handpicked collection, debut September 12.