Nas Narrates Hennessy's Artful Ad About the Cultural Force of the NBA

Verbal and visual poetry reflect the spirit of the game

Rap legend Nas voices an intriguing animated spot that celebrates Hennessy's freshly minted status as the official spirit of the NBA.

You won't see any drives to the hoop or slammin' dunks in this :30 film from Droga5 and production house Buck. Instead, the spot takes a surprisingly abstract approach to deliver its message.

Black-and-white basketball-court boundary lines move, merge and morph as Nas reads poetic copy designed to distill the soul of the NBA and put its powerful presence as a cultural force into perspective.

Hennessy x NBA | Lines

In the end, the lines—always progressing, charging ahead, an inexorable force—form the familiar shape of a cross-stitched basketball that surrounds, or perhaps embraces, a bottle of Hennessy cognac:

Droga5 says it chose to tell the story in a simple yet compelling way, allowing the Nas voiceover to really pop.

Here's his soliloquy:

"The laws of the game say the lines contain it.
But contain it, they fail.
Cross the line.
Move the line.
Break the line.
This game forever grows.
Forever spreads.
No corner of society out-of-bounds.
A cultural force no whistle can stop.
The court dimensions may be set.
But this game is ever expanding…
The spirit of the NBA."

Those lines convey a lot in fairly few words, poetically summarizing the continued momentum of a league that makes an outsized impact in everything from fashion and music to media and politics. Nas' narration was recored before the visuals were created, allowing the creative team to use his voice as a guide for what appears on screen.

The spot breaks Friday night during NBA coverage on TNT and will appear throughout the weekend—with the league's All-Star Game set for Sunday—across broadcast, digital and social platforms.

CREDITS

Agency Droga5 NY
Creative Chairman David Droga
Global Chief Creative Officer Neil Heymann
Co-Chief Creative Officer Tim Gordon
Co-Chief Creative Officer Felix Richter
Global Head of Art Alexander Nowak
Creative Director Ryan Fitzgerald
Creative Director Jim Curtis
Associate Creative Director Joel Francke
Senior Copywriter Craig Gerringer
Chief Creation Officer Sally-Ann Dale
Director of Film Production Jesse Brihn
Associate Director of Film Production Ruben Mercadal
Senior Producer, Film Brandon Chen
Senior Business Affairs Manager Ann Marie Turbitt
Music Supervisor Mike Ladman
Group Account Director Lindsay Cole
Account Director Marissa Guerra
Account Supervisor Mosito Ramaili
Associate Account Manager Vanessa Foinquinos
Project Manager Danielle Gibbons
Global Chief Strategy Officer Jonny Bauer
Head of Strategy Harry Román-Torres
Head of Strategy: New Business Will Davie
Group Comms Strategy Director Delphine Mckinley
Strategy Director Drew Simel
Head of Communications Strategy Dean Challis
Sr. Communications Strategist Mariel Miller
Brand Strategist Justin Clagette

Client Hennessy US
Chief Executive Officer Seth Kaufman
Chief Marketing Officer Vanessa Kay
SVP, Hennessy USA Giles Woodyer
Brand Director, V.S Deon Harris
Digital Director Seth Zaharako
Trade Marketing Director Rachel Li
Trade Marketing Jessica Miller
VP, Consumer Engagement Jacqueline Long
Digital Manager, Consumer Engagement Amy Schuster
Director, Business Intelligence Kathy Stahakis

Production Buck
Executive Creative Director Orion Tait
Executive Producer Anne Skopas
Creative Director Daniel Oeffinger
Associate Creative Director Stevie Watkins
Producer Mackenzie Alexander
Animation Leads Tucker Klein, Alex Perry
Storyboard Tucker Klein
Design Glen Miralles, Luke Saunders, Liron Ashkenazi
Animation Gilles Desmadrille, Johan Eriksson, Vero Gomez, Daniel Oeffinger, Alex Perry, Hogan Williams, Michael Russo, Zuheng Yin
Lighting Bill Dorais, Daniel Oeffinger, Hogan Williams, Zuheng Yin
Exploratory Bern Bausard, Lucas Brooking, Carmel Gatchalian, Vero Gomez, Doug Hindson, Gonzalo Menevichian, Salvatore Scopelliti, Simone Noronha, Thea Glad, William Pietsch

Sound Design/Mix Wave Studios
Sound Designer/Mixer Aaron Reynolds
Executive Producer Vicky Ferraro
Audio Assistant Andrew Gualtieri

Music Found Objects
ECD/Partner/Composer Jay Wadley
ECD/Partner Trevor Gureckis
Executive Producer Jennie Armon
Head of Production Matt Nelson
Producer Nick Chomowicz
Producer Agatha Lee

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David Gianatasio
David Gianatasio is senior editor at Clio Awards.

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