By Barry Janoff
February 28, 2013: Randy Newman's classic song, "I Love L.A.," includes the lyrics: "Century Boulevard. We love it. Victory Boulevard. We love it! Santa Monica Boulevard. We love it! Sixth Street. We love it! We love it! I love L.A.'
Adidas has adapted that theme to use with one of its athletes, hitting the streets of Los Angeles to find out if people would yell, "We love him" upon seeing Dwight Howard.
Howard may be having trouble hitting free throws this season during games with the NBA's Los Angeles Lakers, but he is a hit with people in Los Angeles, at least according to a "secret camera" video from adidas.
The sports apparel and footwear company set up mobile photo booths earlier this season in high-trafficked locations throughout Los Angeles — including The Grove retail and entertainment complex (located not far from Wilshire Boulevard — "We love it!"), near the Lakers' home arena, Staples Center (close to Venice Boulevard — "We love it!") and at the corner of Hollywood and Highland ("We love it!").
People were not asked to sing "I Love L.A." Instead, they were asked to model adidas NBA apparel and then pose in the booths for souvenir shots. They also were told that the photos could be used as part of a marketing campaign.
Throughout the sessions, Howard was brought in as a surprise guest.
Howard, who joined the Lakers prior to the 2012-13 season via a trade with the Orlando Magic, has averaged more than 16 points and almost 12 rebounds per game this year for Los Angeles, but is shooting under 49% at the free throw line. He had off-season back surgery and has also been hampered this season with shoulder problems.
The Lakers as a team have been struggling to reach the .500 mark and are currently in ninth place in the Western Conference, which would leave them out of the playoffs.
In the video, "All in For L.A.," Howard arrives unannounced and unseen at the first location, where Lakers fans are trying on adidas gear. The first woman walks into the photo booth, sees Howard, and screams, "Oh my god!" as she gives him a big hug.
He then gets to pose with a series of equally surprised and enthusiastic people, including a dad with his young son and several teens who display extremely animated movements.
The 60-second clip ends with Howard exiting the photo booth to face a crowd (mostly friendly) that has learned of his presence. He then gets into a car and is driven off as text offers, "adidas. All in for L.A." (See the full episode here.)
A closing montage of photos taken during the sessions links to an adidas Facebook page, where an extended series of pictures of happy people (thanks to creative editing) can be turned into a slide show. The adidas hoops Twitter site also supports.
Unfortunately for adidas' PR effort, not all of the comments at the YouTube destination are complimentary. Among them: "All in for making free throws."
And, referring to the fact that Howard could leave the Lakers as a free agent after the 2012-13 campaign, "If L.A. [doesn't] re-sign him after this terrible season, this video is gonna be even [funnier] to watch."
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