By Barry Janoff
August 13, 2013: James Harden can ball, but can he sing? The reviews are in.
In a new spot from Foot Locker, Harden tries to transition from his NBA career-best season in 2012-13 with the Houston Rockets to a starring role in the recording studio. Turns out that Harden, one of the league's top point guards, should have passed on his effort to become the next Jay-Z.
At least according to Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors, making his first appearance in a national Foot Locker spot.
"We're excited to bring James and Stephen together for our latest commercial supporting our 'Approved' campaign," Stacy Cunningham, evp-marketing for Foot Locker, said in a statement. "The new spot really shows how these two players embody the sense of humor that underlies the Foot Locker brand marketing programs and drives our fresh product collection message."
The commercial, "Harden Soul," will air during sports programming, with support on the Internet and social media destinations such as YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. Lead agency is BBDO, NY.
Foot Locker said it is timed for the back-to-school selling season, with Foot Locker offering not just shoes, but shirts, socks, hats, sweatshirts and backpacks, as well.
Foot Locker recently unveiled a commercial that put Los Angeles Clippers teammates Blake Griffin and Chris Paul together in a national spot for the first time.
The new commercial opens with Harden in a recording studio laying down R&B tracks. Curry walks in and tries to shut down the session. "James," Curry pleads, "don't do this."
"I just came off the best year of my career," Harden replies. "I have to keep things fresh."
Curry seems to know something that we don't. "Let's just go to Foot Locker. They got all the fresh new gear."
"But I have real talent," Harden insists.
Harden's request is falling on deaf ears. "Can I gat a playback," Curry says to one of the technicians busy running the control board. A voice that would make cats yowl and onions cry then moans over the speakers.
"I wear my shirt open, girl, so you see my chest. I work hard . . ."
"Is . . . that me!?" an incredulous Harden asks when he hears his own gnarly voice. The spot leaves Harden hanging as it cuts to a shot of Foot Locker products and the text, "Just go to Foot Locker." (See the full spot here.)
Fortunately, Harden doesn't have to give up his day job. He spent the first three years of his NBA with the Oklahoma City Thunder before being traded to the Houston Rockets prior to the 2012-13 season. With Houston, he had career highs in scoring average (25.9), points (2.023), assists (455), steals (142) and three-pointers (179) and made his first All-Star team.
"The new spot really shows how these two players embody the sense of humor that underlies the Foot Locker brand marketing programs."
Harden has appeared in other commercials for the sports shoe and apparel company, most recently in a series of ads in which members of his crew who wear the same shoes two days in a row get traded to the not-so-cool crew fronted by Kris Humphries.
According to Harden, "I always have a great time when filming Foot Locker's commercials. The spot was really fun because I got to show my playful personality, while interacting and having some laughs with Steph off the court."
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