“Some athletes just want the endorsement deal. Some do it for the fame-slash-poontang. The smart as shit ones get into business. But no one has ever done… what I’ve just fucking done.”
So begins the newest Kenny Powers K-Swiss ad, one that you can see online and nowhere else. It’s filled with profanity and could never be shown on TV.
Which is curious, because K-Swiss obviously spent a lot of money on this 5 minute bro de force: it features celebrity cameos (patron saint of testosterone Michael Bay is in it) and a surprisingly high production value. For a company that spends more money than it should on marketing, this appears at first to be a very wasteful allocation of resources. If you have 1/100th the sales of Nike, should you be turning Kenny Powers into a motherfucking Transformer?
Fuck. And. Yes. Here’s why: many a brand has tried its hand at this viral marketing thing, and many have failed, for the simple reason that the viral ads themselves aren’t good. This one is, especially when Kenny Powers high fives the stuffed bear. I laughed.
And it took me a few minutes before I realized something, something that will likely make the free-spending executives at K-Swiss happy, considering I’m an 18-34 male and all: this was the same K-Swiss that once tried to rebrand itself as more “urban” (oh, what a terrible, terrible advertising word), using this strategy:
I honestly had forgotten how terrible the “I Wear My K-Swiss” campaign from the late 90s and early 2000s was, which is precisely the point: the Kenny Powers campaign is meant, at least in part, to make you forget about the awfulness of this series of commercials.
Will the ads translate into more sales? Probably not at first, because for the life of me I can’t figure out what a “tube” is. For K-Swiss to break through and actually sell me a pair of shoes, it will need to do a better job of convincing me that I should wear these while I work out or play basketball, and won’t be looked at weird, because they’re really tennis shoes in disguise, and will it change me and start making me wear canary cardigans? This is my fear.
The fact that they’ve started to successfully undo years of corny brand placement, however, is a start, and is money well spent.