Today, on what would have been Kobe Bryant's 42nd birthday, Nike pays tribute to the basketball legend in a short film from Wieden + Kennedy that ranks among the most compelling sports-themed ads of the year.
Kendrick Lamar narrates, trading lines with Bryant over archival footage of No. 24 in action. Superstars such as Megan Rapinoe, Richard Sherman and Serena Williams appear, along with scenes of everyday folks going all out to pursue their dreams.
Bryant: "You wake up every single day to get better than you were yesterday—whatever it takes."
Lamar: "Better walker. Better talker. Better walking the walk and talking the talk. Better blocker. Better sprinter. Better loser. Better winner. Just … be … better."
Bryant: "Do the simple stuff right."
Over its 90 seconds, the spot distills the best of the man—his spirit, if you will—into relatable terms for everyone. It stirringly posits that we can all learn something from Bryant's "Mamba Mentality," his intense competitive drive that helped the Lakers win five NBA championships.
As Lamar's cadence quickens, we see scenes from a Black Lives Matter march, underscoring the notion that commitment, courage and striving to overcome obstacles apply to the world outside sports.
Near the end, images of Bryant playing with his kids fill the screen, and Lamar strikes a nearly breathless crescendo: "Better artist. Better teacher. Better preacher. Better believer. Better first. Better future. Better hero. Better mother… better father, better father, better father. Better me. Better you. Better us!"
Bryant: "Mamba out."
Lamar: "Better … forever."
Prettybird's Melina Matsoukas directed, with Robert Duffy's percussive editing punctuating the script's poetry. It's a fitting celebration of Bryant, who perished along with eight others, including his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, in a January helicopter crash. Shortly thereafter, Nike created a very different type of memorial film, telling his story in two minutes of audio and text devoid of other imagery.
Starting today, the company remembers Kobe with "Mamba Week"—seven days of programing and retail launches. Nike will also make a $1 million donation to the Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation, which helps kids in underserved communities and works to provide equal sports opportunities for girls.
Agency Wieden + Kennedy Portland
Creative Directors Alberto Ponte, Ryan O'Rourke
Copywriter Kevin Steele
Art Director Emma Barnett
Head of Production Matt Hunnicutt
Executive Producer Jake Grand, Krystle Mortimore
Producer Emily Knight
Associate Producer Jasmyn Barr
Business Affairs Laura Caldwell, Maggie Harasyn, Rylee Millerd
Director of Business Affairs Amber Lavender
Group Brand Director Andre Gustavo
Brand Director Erik Wade
Brand Manager Jon Vaughan
Group Strategy Director Paula Bloodworth
Strategist Anthony Holton
Group Media Director Daniel Sheniak, Reme DeBisschop
Associate Media Director Ryan Craven
Media Kallie Tenzeldam, Darryl Maxwell
Studio + Design
Creative Operations Manager Lisa Calgaro
Integrated Traffic Managers Sabrina Reddy, Billy Mucha
Studio Manager Michael Frediani
Retoucher Amy Ellars, Frazer Goodbody
Production Company Prettybird
Director Melina Matsoukas
DP Bradford Young
President / Executive Producer Ali Brown
Director of Production Tracy Hauser
Line Producer John WInters
Company Spot Welders
:90 Editor Robert Duffy
Assistant Editor JC Nunez
:60 & socials Editor JC Nunez
Managing Partner David Glean
Executive Producer Carolina Padilla
VFX Company A52
Flame Artists Kevin Stokes, Michael Vaglienty, Gretchen Capatan, John Valle, Dan Ellis
VFX Supervisor Andy Rafael Barrios
VFX Producer Drew Rissman
VFX Executive Producer Kim Christensen, Patrick Nugent
Mix Company Joint Editorial
Audio Mixer Noah Woodburn
Executive Producer Leslie Carthy
Senior Executive Producer Sara Matarazzo
Executive Producer Stephanie Pigott
Producer Danielle Soury
Adaptation of Midnight Sonata