By Barry Janoff
January 17, 2013: Nike this week breaks its first new hoops commercial of 2013, an ode to the veteran, five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant, which ultimately philosophizes that like the sun shining, the rain falling and the grass growing, Bryant is a constant force of nature and a constant presence in the league.
The spot and related activation will support the new "Kobe 8 System," described by Nike as the "lowest and lightest" Kobe Bryant signature shoes to date. The early released color patterns are meant to mimic Kobe's nickname, Black Mamba (snake) and also evoke images from the Chinese Year of the Snake in 2013.
The commercial breaks as Bryant was named to his NBA record 15th consecutive All-Star Game. Despite the fact that the Los Angeles Lakers have been hovering around .500 all season, Bryant received the most votes among all players, almost 16 million.
The spot, "Count On Kobe," will run during basketball programming across NBA media partners, including ESPN, TNT, ABC and NBA TV. Support includes Internet and social media such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Lead agency is Wieden + Kennedy, Portland, Ore.
The spot opens with a dramatic sunrise as female narrator with a British accent explains, "This is how the world works: The sun shines. The grass grows. Kobe Bryant arrives to practice at three."
A clock shows 3 PM, but the narrator begs to differ. "The other three!"
Several esoteric and philosophical observations follow. "Chickens 'Bock! Bock! Bock!'" says the narrator as we see baby chicks bouncing in the air. "Broccoli can fight cancer. Rice provides energy. Kobe eats rice, broccoli, chicken. And the world turns.
"Earthquakes shake. Bakers bake. Kobe Bryant shakes and bakes defenders," she continues as we see a chef preparing "Kobe Bryant's Ankle Snaps." The recipe contains "Can't defend this milk, Jab step sugar, All-purpose clutch flour" and, in reference to Bryant's Black Mamba nickname, "Mamba egg and python salt."
The voiceover continues with a mix of utter seriousness and a dash of tongue-in-cheek. "Philosophers ponder existence. Scholars read. Kobe Bryant takes everyone to school. Rain falls. Waterfalls dump water. Kobe owns the bucket." Not a water bucket filled with ice, as seen on screen, but the hoops basket, which is seen filling up with Kobe Bryant jump shots.
The Black Mamba reference returns. "Snakes are light, low and fast. Kobe's shoes are like snakes." Followed by more mystical references. "Bees sting when threatened. Kobe Bryant is never threatened. Best is ahead of better. The basket is ahead of the ball. Kobe is light years ahead of them all."
To sum it all up, we see Bryant in action driving to the hoop and slamming home a basket as the narrator says, "This is the way it was. This is the way it is." And as an on-screen calendar clock counts the years to 2019, she proclaims, "This is the way it will be."