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MUST WATCH:  Derrick Rose cries during his shoe launch

Two things are plainly obvious to me regarding the promotional campaign for Derrick Rose’s new basketball shoe titled #TheReturn:

  1. Derrick Rose has a lot of fans, and he’s making a whole lot more.
  2. This is a master stroke by Adidas.

NIKE has long dominated the sneaker market on the strength of it’s basketball products.  Their ad campaigns and television spots have run the gamut from powerful to funny.  At the very least, NIKE’s advertisements are memorable.  At best, they’re legendary.

But rarely, if ever, has NIKE been able to tap into the humanity Adidas is capturing with Rose’s Return.  A lot of that has to do with the fact Derrick Rose mixes incredible, video game-like talent with the humility I hope to one day teach my future children, all the while being the kid from the “wrong side of the tracks,” who “made good” in his hometown.  He’s a special person, let alone athlete.

But don’t discount what Adidas has done.  Because it’s brilliant.  Has a major sneaker company ever marketed their product around an injury?

When a company tries to sell you shoes by having NBA players dunking in commercials, they’re impressing you with talent.  You watch amazed, because what these men can do on the court is exactly the opposite of human.  It’s other-worldly. 

I can’t do the things they do on TV.  I can’t dunk (*anymore, because I once mashed on my friend Jeff in a game in my backyard — it was sweetness).  The closest we’ll ever get to being LeBron James is putting on a pair of sneakers with his name of them.

Adidas, however, is telling a story we all know.  We’ve all been down.  We’ve all had to fight back.  It’s wholly relatable.  It’s entirely human.

Adidas’ slick, yet raw documentaries, paired with Rose’s candor, are building a real relationship between Derrick, Adidas, his shoe, and basketball fans. 

I can’t wait for Rose to take the court again. Remarkably, Adidas has found a way to organically grow Derrick, and their brand, with him off of it.