Thump, thump, thump, thump… that bone-rattling bassline of The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” is a familiar siren song to any sports fan. Long a stadium classic, it also provides the heartbeat for the latest paean to the ties between sports and music from Beats by Dre.
Here, 23 of the world’s top athletes, from 11 countries and 12 sports, including Tom Brady, LeBron James, Michael Phelps, Serena Williams, Cam Newton, Kevin Durant, Simone Biles, and more, all thumping their chests in a chorus of jock rock competitive fire, doesn’t set break any records, but it certainly measures up.
The brand has long-established its creative bonafides (to slow the Swoosh comparison) and instead can be judged against its own award-winning past work. The biggest difference here may be behind the scenes. It’s the second spot from agency Anomaly, who joined R/GA on Beats’ creative roster in June, after its more-than catchy debut combining superstars with a Disney classic.
Beats has told sports stories before, spanning self-reflection (“LeBron James Is Championship Ready,” “Game Before the Game“), defiance (Serena “Rise”, “Hear What I Want“), redemption (Chelsea “No One Hides“) and more. The brand’s executive vice-president of marketing Jason White, who took the marketing helm in November after former CMO Omar Johnson stepped down in November, says the theme of the “Be Heard” ad is about harnessing the power of music to be the best of the best. “To lift yourself, your team and your fans,” says White. “To place them on your back and say I’m the one who can carry us.”
Last year, Johnson told me the brand gains its insights into music and sports by constantly talking to athletes, aiming to represent that relationship as truthfully as possible. Here, White says they found that truth in a song and in a behavior.
“‘The Seven Nation’ Army chant and the chest beat. Both are real. They exist. They are the behaviors of the biggest athletes and the most passionate fans on the planet,” says White. “They are inseparable from sports biggest moments. We’ve never asked our athletes to act. Just to be honest and to be athletes. This was no different. They knew the emotional place we wanted to go, and they knew the behavior inherently. It was effortless because it was true.”
Given that truth, White says it largely the challenge of living up to the brand’s past work takes care of itself.
“How do you a tell a story that truly captures the emotional power of ‘Seven Nation Army,’ the greatest sports anthem of this millennium?” says White. “Get a great partner. Get the best athletes in the world. Keep it truthful. Keep it simple. Let that song do what it’s done for the last 13 years.”