By Barry Janoff
June 23, 2014: With the NBA Draft coming on June 26, the players people are talking about most include Jabari Parker (Duke), Andrew Wiggins (Kansas), Julius Randle (Kentucky), Noah Vonieh (Indiana), Aaron Gordon (Arizona) and Joel Embiid (Kansas).
But as they say in Hollywood during the Academy Award nomination period, adidas and Foot Locker would like to present for your consideration Dante Exum.
To move the awareness needle for Exum, Foot Locker this week launches five spots starring the 6" 6", 196 lb. guard from the Australian Institute of Sport. The theme of the humorous campaign, "Life Changes After the Draft."
Exum's basketball celebrity status among fans in the U.S. is relatively lower than the aforementioned players, who played their prep and college ball in the States. But in this campaign, Exum, who in addition to adidas and Foot Locker has a deal with Red Bull, considers himself to be a hoops celeb and readies himself for such obstacles as paparazzi and being mobbed by fans when shopping in Foot Locker.
Exum, in reality, comes with a strong college and hoops pedigree. His father, Cecil, played college basketball at the University of North Carolina and won an NCAA championship in 1982 alongside Michael Jordan and James Worthy. He was drafted in 1984 in the ninth round by the Denver Nuggets, but found his on-court calling in Australia in the National Basketball League,
Dante Exum plans to have a much more substantial NBA career, at least according to analysts who place him among the top ten in the coming draft. And certainly at Foot Locker.
"The NBA Draft is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and we're excited to partner with adidas to introduce Dante's outstanding personality to American basketball fans and bring some levity to this special event with our 'Life Changes After the Draft' campaign," Stacy Cunningham, evp-marketing for Foot Locker, said in a statement.
The five spots break on TV this week on ESPN during the NBA Draft on June 26; as well as on Foot Locker's YouTube channel and NBA.com.
Foot Locker said it would have other NBA Draft-related activations, including the SLAM draft suite (June 24-25) and digital content with some of the top prospects. Support includes social media destinations at YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
The "Life Changes After the Draft" campaign, written and produced by The Vault, is part of Foot Locker's "Approved" umbrella campaign from lead agency BBDO, New York.
In "Fan Mail," Exum tries to convince his friend he's well-known and that he gets a lot of fan mail, which turns out to be a utility bill, a menu, a credit card offer and coupons.
"Reservation" sees Exum seeking to make dinner reservation but due to his anonymity and Australian accent finds that he needs to spell his last name. "E . . . X . . . X, like Xenopus. It's a genus of frogs . . ."
Exum finds himself trying to explain that he is a soon-to-be NBA player in "Dorky Neighbor," but with little success. "Nice sneakers, Dante," his neighbor observes when he sees Exum wearing new kicks and carrying a shopping back from Foot Locker. "What do they call sneakers in England?"
"I'm actually from Australia," Exum replies.
"[So] what do they call sneakers in Australia?" asks the neighbor.
"Runners," answers Exum. "So you're a runnier! Me too!," offers the guy as he jogs off.
"No I play basketball," says a somewhat dismayed Exum. "I'm a point guard." (See the full spot here.)
In "Paparazzi" and "Autograph," Exum envisions himself facing the same woes that already established NBS superstar face: hordes of photographers and how to sign his name for endless fans.
According to Exum, "Working with Foot Locker on the 'Life Changes After the Draft' campaign was an amazing experience, and I am thrilled to be a part of the campaign. The NBA Draft will certainly be a life-changing moment, and it was fun to be featured in these commercials that are going to help people see my personality."