By Barry Janoff
August 5, 2014: Do pro athletes have short-term memory loss when it comes to bad things that have happened during their career?
That's what Charles Barkley says, to the best of his memory, which is the premise in a new humorous spot from Foot Locker, which stars company spokesman James Harden of the Houston Rockets and introduces two NBA Hall of Famers to the mix: Barkley and Scottie Pippen.
The spot, "Short Memory Part I," which is part of Foot Locker's "Approved" campaign and from BBDO NY, is helping to support the brand's back to school efforts.
"Achieving greatness requires never dwelling on the past," Stacy Cunningham, evp-marketing for Foot Locker, said in a statement "It's always about looking ahead to the next opportunity and staying fresh, such as finding the best new gear for the new school year at Foot Locker."
For Foot Locker marketing, the staying fresh actually meant dipping into the NBA's past. Barkley retired in 2000 after 16 seasons and now works as an analyst and commentator for Turner Sports' NBA on TNT. Pippen last played in the NBA in 2004, a 17-year career during which he won six NBA championships with the Chicago Bulls alongside teammate Michael Jordan.
The spot opens with Harden, who currently is competing for a spot on the USA Basketball Men's World Cup Team, and Barkley at a party talking about the new gear available in Foot Locker. In response to Harden asking Barkley how to start the upcoming season off fresh, Barkley replies, "Your new Foot Locker gear is a big part of it."
But Barkley has some addition advice. "Now you just need a short memory. All the greats have short memories."
"So when you had a bad game you just forgot about it?" Harden asks.
"I never had a bad game," replies Barkley, proving his point.
"And you don't remember they used to call you 'The Round Mound of Rebound?'" Harden asks, referring to an infamous Barkley nickname.
"Uh-uh," Barkley offers, shaking his head.
Still, Harden persists. "Remember when you threw that guy through the window? And the time . . . "
Barkley cuts him short. "Look, all I know is all the greats have short memories. Scottie Pippen knows."
The scene then cuts to Pippen, who is standing nearby. "I sure do," Pippen smiles. Then, supporting Barkley's point, he says, "And I'm the greatest Chicago Bull of all time," having conveniently forgotten that reference is historically applied to Jordan.
"And that's how it's done," says Barkley.
The commercial, which breaks this week, ends with a shot of new Foot Locker gear and the text, "Start Fresh." (See the full spot here.)
Support for the TV spot includes in-store, Internet, social media such as YouTube and Facebook. A follow-up spot will break later this summer.
"Working with Foot Locker is a great experience for me every time because they appreciate my sense of humor," said Harden, whose previous efforts for Foot Locker have seen him singing in a spot with Stephen Curry and trading a member of his crew to the less-exciting posse of Kris Humphries. "I'm looking forward to taking the short memory advice from these legends and to start fresh this season."
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