During Game 6 of the NBA Finals, Beats by Dre launched its newest ad, which stars sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson as well as debuts a song off Kanye West’s yet-to-be-released new album.
Richardson is America’s fastest woman, but was banned from competing at the Tokyo Games earlier this month after testing positive for marijuana. Her suspension has since been a hot topic of debate, and a huge part of the cultural conversation. The new ad features her lining up in the running blocks, training alone at night while listening to the new West track “No Child Left Behind” off the album Donda, which drops Friday.
Beats will be releasing an alternative edit of the spot on its Instagram on Friday, featuring a track called “Glory,” an unreleased song created with Dr. Dre and featuring Snoop Dogg.
Back in November, the brand launched “You Love Me,” a spot starring Naomi Osaka, Bubba Wallace, and Lil Baby, that stylishly addressed the gulf between America’s love of Black culture and the systemic racism still inflicted on its Black citizens. The spot has since won armloads of ad industry awards, and it reestablished Beats as a culturally influential marketer. At the time, chief marketing officer Chris Thorne told me that the goal was to be one of the strongest brand voices out there.
Steve Stoute, founder and CEO of Beats’s ad agency Translation (which did not make the new ad), also told me at the time that the brand’s challenge is that some of the greatest creators of culture founded the company. “So our challenge is to always live up to the original brand’s purpose and voice,” Stoute said. “That’s the job. And to stay lockstep with culture as it evolves over time. That’s the responsibility.”
Here the brand has combined one of America’s most of-the-moment athletes with one of its most polarizing artists, smack dab in the midst of the NBA Finals, to do just that.