Athletes. There’s a lot of them in this week’s list. Starting with perhaps what’s become the most crucial skill in pro sports social media—the creative handshake. A simple high five is no longer sufficient. NBA broadcaster TNT knows this, so to promote the league’s inaugural awards show it recruited two of the most skilled handshakers in the business. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go practice The Prom. Onward!
TNT “Handshake Lessons”
What: A sketch starring NBA Awards host Drake and Will Ferrell.
Why We Care: Okay, so maybe not an ad per se, since the sketch aired during the live broadcast of the NBA Awards on TNT. But! The network also smartly used it as a live ad—pushing clips across social to entice viewers to tune in immediately. De-mazing.
Twitter “GOAT is Happening”
What: A new spot from Twitter, using sports to illustrate the diverse, fun, wide-ranging conversations that can be had online.
Why We Care: Somedays it seems that Twitter is merely a machine that kills optimism, manners, and common decency all at once. But despite all the divisive vitriol spewing across the platform, it can also be a ton of fun. And here the brand has some fun itself, using sports banter across fans and superstars to make a point.
Gatorade “The Secret to Victory”
What: Michael Jordan, Serena Williams, the Manning brothers, Matt Ryan, JJ Watt, Kyle Schwarber, and Karl Anthony Towns, all reveal the one special ingredient that makes a winner.
Who: Gatorade, TBWA Chiat Day/LA
Why We Care: This is just a classic sports ad, using a different kind of aspirational approach, celebrating sweat over celebrity. We see these pro athletes reflect on their lowest competitive moments. It brings them back to earth in the best way possible, and allows us mere mortals, even just for a brief second, to know we can in some way, to borrow a phrase, be like Mike.
Jordan Brand “Why Not 0?”
What: An animated ode to newly minted NBA MVP Russell Westbrook.
Who: Jordan Brand, Wieden+Kennedy
Why We Care: As I said earlier this week, I’m a fan of learning lessons in animated form. So this NBA math lesson, courtesy of Phonte of Little Brother and the Foreign Exchange, is a perfectly delightful way to break down the numbers to pay homage to No. O—oh, and just how incredible Westbrook’s season was.
Pedigree “General Howe’s Dog”
What: A new Pedigree ad that celebrates America with an obscurely sweet story from the Revolutionary War.
Who: Pedigree, BBDO New York
Why We Care: Okay, no athletes in this one, but there is a dog. A famous, historical dog. Here Pedigree continues its “Feed the Good” campaign, and celebrates July 4th with a dramatic retelling of that time General George Washington politely returned British General Howe’s dog after the 1777 Battle of Germantown. Seriously, there’s a whole book about it.