By Barry Janoff
November 19, 2014: Manny Pacquiao is facing Chris Algieri a welterweight title fight this weekend. But Manny-Pac might already be looking ahead to an as-yet unsigned but highly anticipated and long-awaited potential bout against Floyd Mayweather Jr.
In one of four new spots for Foot Locker, "It's Happening," Pacquiao mis-hears two guys in a gym who are working out and talking about the sports shoe, apparel and gear retailer's third annual "Week of Greatness." "People wanted it, so Foot Locker is making it happen," one guy says to his friend regarding the promotional event.
In a nearby ring, Pacquiao asks, "So the thing that people wanted is finally happening? He's going to fight me?! He's going to fight me?! Yes!! He's going to fight me!!!"
Neither of the guys has the heart (or nerve) to tell Pacquiao that he misunderstood their discussion and that it was about Foot Locker, not Mayweather. So Pacquiao continues to rejoice and punch away at a heavy bag. (See the full spot here.)
That irreverent tone is present throughout the new campaign, from BBDO New York, which also includes spots starring NBA players Derrick Rose, Tim Duncan and James Harden and WWE star John Cena.
The spots anchor a multi-media campaign that breaks this week to support "Week of Greatness" beginning Nov. 22, which includes premium releases from such brands as Nike, Jordan, adidas, Under Armour, Puma and Timberland.
"Last year's 'Week of Greatness' was such a hit with our customers, we decided to go even bigger with our campaign this year," Stacy Cunningham, evp-mrketing for Foot Locker, said in a statement. "We're excited to introduce four new commercials featuring these outstanding athletes as we begin an incredible week dedicated to showcasing brand new premium sneakers, apparel and gear."
In addition to TV, Foot Locker is supporting with POP, Internet and social media including Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
The attitude of the spots also follows in the Foot Locker footsteps of last year's lead "Week of Greatness" commercial, "All Is Right." The story there sees Kyrie Irving envisioning a world in which good things happen, which leads to Mike Tyson apologizing to Evander Holyfield for biting off a piece of his ear (and returning it to Holyfield) and Dennis Rodman booking a one-way flight to North Korea.
In his spot, "Defensive," Harden pokes fun at himself by tongue-in-cheek ackowledging critics who claim that he never plays defense. When Harden approaches two guys talking about Foot Locker, they ask him if he's going to the store. "Why wouldn't I go?!" replies Harden with a bit of an attitude. "Okay," one of the guys says. "No need to get defensive." "You're calling me defensive? I never get defensive," says Harden. "Ask around. I''m the last person you'll ever see being defensive."
Cena's spot, "It's Real," takes a shot at the "concept" that WWE matches are pre-staged. Responding to a guy who says he can't believe that "a whole Week of Greatness at Foot Locker is real," Cena offers, "You don't have to believe something is real to believe it. It's called 'suspension of disbelief.' Even if it's not real, if it makes you happy, it's okay." "Like wrestling," suggests one of the guys. "Nothing like that!!" exclaims Cena in a not-so-real mean tone. "Don't you ever say something like that!!!"
Rose and Duncan team up in "Excited," in which Duncan's mild-mannered personality is put to the test. When Rose phones him to share the big news about the return of Foot Locker's Week of Greatness, Duncan responds in a mono-tone voice, "No way. That's insane. I can't contain myself. I'm bouncing off the walls." Then, in a "burst" of enthusiasm, Duncan says in a dulcet tone, "I just knocked over a plant" as we see him gently placing a small potted plant on its side.
According to Cunningham, "We enjoyed working with each of these athletes to showcase their unique personalities in the newest iteration of our 'Week of Greatness.'"
Earlier this month, Foot Locker said that Ken Hicks plans to retire as president and CEO on Dec. 1, and would be succeeded by Richard Johnson, who has been with the company since 1997, most recently as COO. Hicks has held his positions since 2009, when he joined the company from J.C. Penney, where he was president and chief merchandising officer.
Hicks said that Foot Locker this month would report its "19th consecutive quarter of strong sales and profit growth." Sales have increased from $4.9 billion in 2009 to $6.5 billion in 2013, per Foot Locker.