A Man of the People.
The market for basketball shoes is more aggressive now than ever. Way back when those first Jordan’s hit the market the idea of equating technology with the shoes on our feet wasn’t as important as the man wearing them. Both are true now. As the competition stacks trademarked buzz words into each pair of shoes and elevates them to an elite status symbol only attainable by a select few, their price outweighs their accessibility. That’s not what Damian Lillard wanted with the third iteration of his signature Adidas shoe. He didn’t want to create a product
his fan base couldn’t afford; a shoe so stacked with expensive buzz words that it was outside the realm of attainability for the kids in the neighborhood where he grew up. He wanted something all of his fans could use, enjoy, and attain. Dame is an icon on the court, he’s mastered the art of basketball. But at the same time, he’s a humble guy who hasn’t forgotten about where he came from, where his roots lie, and who his fans are.
From Our Beginnings.
We were initially tasked by our friends at Adidas Basketball with creating a spot centered around the Dame 3 that showcased the features of the product, while telling the story behind the details of their design. Adidas had shot some amazing photography for their print campaign that was really inspiring; black and whites of Dame on the streets, interacting with a crowd of kids looking up to him as their idol. Powerful, uplifting stuff. And stuff that we had free rein to use in our product video. But after really diving into Dame’s story and the role that played in the design of the shoe, we felt we would be doing a disservice to the narrative quality of the product by just using stills and graphics.
We wanted to build an emotional connection between Dame’s story and the design of the product in a way that celebrated his upbringing and values. So instead we proposed an anthemic spot hero-ing moments reminiscent of Dame’s own story: Kids hanging out at the neighborhood court, a boy practicing with a milk crate, a young man training hard in the gym – all set against Dame’s voice over and his single “Hero” off of his new record “The Letter O” featuring Raphael Saadiq. Yeah, Dame’s a musician as well – and not like Shaq-Fu style. Dude is seriously talented.
There is a personal story in every decision Dame made in the design of the Dame 3. The letter “O” is a huge deal to him, representing Oakland – the town he grew up in, Ogden – where he played his college hoops, and now Oregon – where he’s risen to superstar status as a member of the Trailblazers. But even more detailed to that are the coordinates to his childhood home which are embedded in the sole. The code on the telephone pole that his uncle hung a milk crate for him so he could practice. Even the initials of his parents, grandparents and other important figures in his life are embedded effortlessly into the design. They aren’t garish – in fact, if we never pointed them out, you may never realize they’re there. But they are. Not only did that give us plenty of material to work with conceptually, it also gives the design of his shoe meaning to him as an athlete and an artist; a personal touch in the design that he imparts onto his fans. We respect the hell out of that.
B-Roll never looked so good. A part of the story we were telling is the history behind Dame’s rise to fame. There’s no better way to elicit a sense of nostalgia than breaking out our old RCA VHS camcorder, dusting it off, and going to town. We ran hours of b-roll on VHS, and captured it with a bit of distortion only authentically old VHS players can achieve. We may or may not have hit the VHS deck with a wrench a few times during import, just to add a bit of that extra “flavor” you get with an old tape.
The intent behind the Dame 3’s was to balance accessibility and affordability with design and innovation. Knowing where that intent is coming from, we can safely say Dame has achieved it. The Dame 3 is an awesome basketball shoe – with a striking design that carries an uncanny amount of attention to detail. It’s also affordable, which makes it that much more impressive.
When Dame rises up on the court, we all rise up with him. As he achieves greatness, we all share in his victories. We’ve seen plenty of legends in basketball get their time in the spot light. For better or for worse, the vast majority have a larger than life persona that carries their brand. Dame is the exception to the rule. He really is humbled every time he takes the court. He doesn’t take his success or his fame for granted. He made the Dame 3 so that everyone can share in it, and we’re humbled by the opportunity to build him a spot.