The “Black Mamba” has been released during the NBA All Star Weekend, generating an important buzz.
What is the “Black Mamba”? This is actually a really good question. Some would consider it as a short film, others as an innovative commercial. I have to agree on the fact that it is pretty difficult to define it when you see the quality of it. However, this short film is definitely part of the new Nike Kobe shoes’ promotion campaign.
It is obviously a major happening in the world of basketball and maybe a proof of innovative advertising.
This short action film, directed by Robert Rodriguez (famous for Machete, Planet Terror, Once upon a time in Mexico, etc), teamed up with the brand Nike and Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant. Three powerful names already gathered for a great communication campaign. Even if it is already enough to generate the buzz, they succeed in gathering Bruce Willis, Danny Trejo and Kanye West for the same movie.
Plot: West plays a villain known as the Boss, with Willis as his henchman. And the Boss wants Bryant’s shoes. In typical over-the-top Rodriguez style, Bryant ends up playing a game of basketball against Danny Trejo and a mutant-like defense, on top of a skyscraper in downtown L.A.
Can we actually consider it as a movie? Directed by such a popular name, we could say yes. However, it is important to keep in mind that Nike sponsored this film and the main stake is to promote Kobe’s new shoes. We could say that “Black Mamba” is a short film, sponsored by Nike (thus, an advertisement), starring Kobe Bryant (product endorsement) integrating Nike new Kobe line (advertisement, as it is part of Nike communication strategy, vs. product placement, as Kobe is wearing them in the film). Still following?!
Of course, the strategy is an example of well-made communication plan: celebrities help to reach a massive audience, the film is released during a big basketball event, the innovative communication support generates the buzz, as well as their presence on major websites (youtube, facebook, twitter). They even launch a “twitter” contest to win the last Nike Kobe shoes, communicated on all the other websites and creating a holistic social experience.
What about product placement then? As Rodriguez says in the film: “Product placement gives us a bigger budget. Bigger budget? Bigger explosions!”. That is basically the principle of product placement: financing a part of a movie production budget. But in that case, I guess no product placement contract has been signed up, as Nike is the direct sponsor and this film is part of its promotion campaign plan. But the fact of talking about placement makes it interesting. Of course if Rodriguez had never mentioned it, we would still understand that the movie is a communication support for Nike. Mentioning it at the beginning of the film creates a sort of “surprise effect”. Now we all know the purpose of the film and are “forced” to focus on the shoes. In any case, the consumption experience for the audience is really strong: oral placement, visual placement and hands on placement. The three types of placement are gathered and their integration is central. It is impossible not to see them! And as the placements are mentioned at the beginning, it obviously attracts our attention.
Well done, Nike!