To hype the Nets' 10th year in Brooklyn, Wieden+Kennedy New York made a memorable film that doesn't actually focus on the NBA franchise.
Instead, the agency and director Andre Wagner interviewed 10-year-olds from the NYC borough—kids who literally grew up with the team—about various aspects of their lives. The resulting mini doc, shot in crisp black-and-white, captures the spirit of Brooklyn and the Nets, with the team repped by a logo at the end.
Responses like "This is the place I growed up in, and the people who know me, they know I belong in here," take on special gravitas. Deeper shades of meaning emerge, as the youths describe Brooklyn as "hard and crazy and dirty and beautiful," a community where "each person is an individual" and folks can feel "confident," "just happy to be."
Per W+K, the spot strives to resonate as a "love letter" from the team to the borough. It succeeds with considerable style, positioning the club as a neighbor of sorts, invested in the hopes and dreams of Brooklynites. The Nets "get" their fans and the broader culture—a theme that's driven numerous NBA campaigns in recent years.
"10 Years in Brooklyn" breaks today across Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. It will also run on the YES Network and screen at Barclays Center during the Nets' Oct. 19 season opener against the New Orleans Pelicans.
Below, W+K art director Nik Reed explains the project's strategy and evolution.
Muse: No game footage or cheering crowds. No player testimonials. Why take such an unorthodox approach?
Nik Reed: Rather than simply using this moment to self-congratulate, we took a more communal path, one demonstrating that this team isn't just located in Brooklyn—it belongs to Brooklyn. We sought to set a stage for a critical coming-of-age moment, where the organization could begin to act less like a transplant and more like a permanent resident, with a more knowing confidence and connection to their home.
So, talking to 10-year-olds was the best way to achieve that goal?
Who better to tell the story of this borough than the team's first-generation of born-and-bred fans? These Brooklyn-raised children share everything that makes their home beautiful and unique. From the basketball courts and parks that bring a sense of community, and the architecture of the brownstones, to how Brooklyn taught them to never give up, stay humble and be themselves. Most importantly, it gave them a sense of belonging. We knew that by telling the stories of 10-year-olds, we were in a way telling a story about the Nets and their 10 years in Brooklyn.
Why so little overt branding? And why shoot in black and white?
We wanted to make this feel like a love letter to Brooklyn instead of an ad. Every decision that we made was in service of that idea. We wanted there to be subtle branding throughout the film, but we knew that if it was heavy-handed, it might be distracting and become more ad-like. The look of the film was also something we felt really strongly about. For us, making this in black and white made it feel timeless and gave a certain reverence to the words of the kids being filmed.
How much was scripted? That line "It's hard and crazy and dirty and beautiful" ... that was a real response?
Usually in any production, you have some level of comfort seeing words on a page and knowing what you're about to get. But for this, we went in with only a sheet of questions. We had an idea of what we wanted, but at the end of the day it all came down to the answers the kids gave us. In a way that was also the beauty of it. We also knew that it might be hard for a kid to answer questions on camera with all the lights and an entire production crew. So, we made sure going into it that our questions would get poignant responses, but also leave enough room for the kids to improvise about their lives, so that it would feel natural and conversational.
Why did you tap Andre Wagner, best known as a magazine cover photographer, to direct?
His body of work became the North Star of what we wanted to capture and how we wanted to capture it. The ethos of his work felt so representative of Brooklyn and its people. It captured them in a way that felt observational instead of manufactured. Which, to us, was one of the most important aspects of the film.
Any anecdotes or BTS tales from the set?
We got all sorts of responses [from the children]. Things they would want to change about Brooklyn—the traffic, loud music, trash on the street. And things they love, like where their favorite slice is, block parties and what the future of holds. There was one girl, whose name is Lulu, who told us about an invention she had called Hamster Shoes. For the rest of the production, we tried to figure out if these were shoes for hamsters, or shoes that looked like hamsters. We never fully settled it.
BROOKLYN NETS | 10 YEAR ANNIVERSARY
Andrew Karson: SVP, Head of Marketing
Emily Walkerden: Sr. Director, Marketing
Kerry Paul: Creative Director
Charlie Widdoes: Head of Content
Sandro Gasparro: Director of Content
Steve Goldberg: Manager of Content Ops
Jessie Kavana: Art Director
Maggie Zerbe: Producer
Simone Waugh: Project Manager
AGENCY: W+K NEW YORK
Matt Mulvey: Group Creative Director
Blair Warren: Creative Director
Nik Reed: Art Director
Nell Stevens: Copywriter
Frank DeRose: Design Director
James Hughes: Design Lead
Henry Jinings: Design Lead
Donovan Triplett: Senior Strategist
Zack Green: Comms Director
Javaad Beg: Senior Comms Strategist
Alex Doomany: Senior Project Manager
Caitlyn Kayser: Management Supervisor
Mayra Yaji: Account Supervisor
Kevin Cabanayan: Business Affairs Manager
Gillian Carrington: Senior Talent Payment Manager
Andrea Fagan: Senior Business Affairs Manager
Jessica Griffeth: Executive Producer
Kwele Serrell: Producer
Kareem Adeniran: Production Assistant
PRODUCTION COMPANY: De La Revolución
Andre Wagner: Director
Melina Matsoukas: Founder/President
Suneeta Olympio: Executive Producer/Partner
Ali Brown: Executive Producer
Marttise Hill: Producer
Julius Pryor: Producer
Geoff Walker: Producer
EDITORIAL COMPANY: Arts Academy
EDITOR: Tommy Harden
POST PRODUCER: Kendall McCrory
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: Chelsea Spensley
EDITORIAL ASSISTANT: Edward Misaka
VFX COMPANY: TRAFIK
VFX SUPERVISOR: N/A
VFX PRODUCER: Charlotte Preuss
MATTE PAINTER: N/A
COMPOSITORS: Joshua Peña
DATA MANAGEMENT: N/A
TELECINE COMPANY: TRAFIK
COLORIST: Ricky Gausis
PRODUCER: Phoebe Torsilieri
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: Meghan Lang Bice
MIXER: Noah Woodburn
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: Leslie Carthy
ORIGINAL MUSIC COMPANY:
COMPOSER: Emile Mosseri
TRACK: Crazy, Dirty, Beautiful
AGENT: Bradley M. Rainey
ANIMATION/MOTION GRAPHICS: TRAFIK