Creativity by corporations has been one of the leading casualties of the PC movement with brands paralyzed by fear, god forbid a noisy minority speaks out against them. Look at the latest batch of bland commercials from this past Super Bowl for further evidence.
K-Swiss went out on a limb with the Rated-R Superstar Powers (with due respect to retired WWE superstar Edge), who gained a following during the run of his HBO comedy Eastbound and Down.
Powers, who is portrayed by Danny McBride, brought his same crass but amusing persona to a nearly five-minute video by K-Swiss, which is using the piece to promote its new shoe, Tubes. The video features a lot of swearing and a few middle fingers while Powers explains what he wants to do as the company’s new MFCEO, and you are probably right in assuming what the MF stands for.
The video went viral, reinforcing what recent Rated-R movies such as The Hangover and Bridesmaids have proven – there is a large segment of the population who are tired of being spoken to like children and don’t get offended anytime a four-letter word or off-color remark is uttered.
The video also hit the mark by incorporating a bunch of athletes who showed by being associated with this edgy promotion that they are real people beyond the deified images the sports media usually paints for them.
Would the sight of San Francisco 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis dropping an F-bomb in this video lead to losing other endorsements or fans? It’s doubtful, but there are plenty of athletes and agents who would have stayed away from this campaign strictly out of fear. It was refreshing to see Willis, Matt Cassel, Urijah Faber and Rey Mysterio among others let their guard down and participate.
Finally, the video made sports fun again. Fans and media take their sports way too seriously. Sports are supposed to be entertainment and an escape, yet every time an athlete says something off center, they get piled on. It’s no wonder Derek Jeter and so many other athletes clam up in front of the camera.
This approach can go wrong because as we’ve seen many times when unfunny people try to be funny, but K-SWISS hit the mark with this one. Hopefully it will loosen the ties of the suits on Madison Ave. a little bit and lead to more adventurous campaigns like this one.
If you haven’t seen the video yet, take a look below unless you are one of the overly PC types, then don’t bother because you probably won’t get the $&!*$ joke anyway.