Brand ads are often a reflective search for organizational meaning and in a new ad from Reebok, they rediscover their inner sole in their local roots
“Round here we used to make things, changed the world,” says the voiceover of the young man, standing on the brow of a hill, staring over a country landscape onto an urban space in the distance. Cut to smartphone – different technology now. Cut to view of his shoes – trainers, Reebok.
The new ad for Reebok Classics Directed Anthony Cook of RSA Films and made by The Rig Out, sees the global sportswear brand now owned by Adidas going back to its local roots in Bolton, north west England. Not an idle boast changing the world, as nearby Manchester was the home of the industrial revolution, with the invention of the Spinning Jenny at the end of the 18th Century.
The young man nods to the nostalgia of the more recent past, “real music, defined a generation”. ‘They talk a lot about the past, acid house, electro, punk and soul. They say it was better, 20 years ago, 2 years ago, last month… You weren’t there they say…I am here” says the young man, as he pulls up in his Beamer to collect his willowy blonde girlfriend from what looks like a well-appointed three-garage house – the signifiers of success haven’t changed then.
It’s possibly the only false note in an ad which really does have its cake (Eccles cake?) and eat it, wrapping itself in the rich local economic and cultural history, while dismissing misty-eyed nostalgia. They might not make material things any more, or spin cotton, but they spin discs on the dance floor as the young DJ carries his record case into the club. Generation ‘Y’ as the makers of immaterial culture, with a little blind spot for cool Vinyl (and equally a fondness for print magazines and analogue film stock).
Brand ads are often a reflective search for meaning – a kind of strategic adolescence or the mid-life crisis knocked into shape with a flow-chart. Reebok, while selling their classics line (heritage) keep looking forward. In the end it’s all resolved by the narrative and imagery of the “local”. Visually the colour palette is washed-out – the local as a signifier of the ‘real’. The cuts jump to images that are artfully uncomposed, lots of reflected light and flare. Location and content-wise, it’s suburbia, urban backstreets, cobblestones.
Visually, the ‘Local’ is more than a geography of place, it’s a geography of mind, and we’ll explore further in the next few weeks.