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Why Reebok’s Jide Osifeso Tapped Allen Iverson and Others to Reimagine an Iconic 1980s Ad Campaign

With its latest star-studded campaign, Reebok looked to a past iconic effort to create a statement aimed at inspiring the future.

The brand’s latest effort, dubbed “Life is Not a Spectator Sport,” was directed by Reebok senior director of marketing creative and design Jide Osifeso and inspired by its “Because Life is Not a Spectator Sport” ads from 1984. The campaign, according to Reebok, was created to inspire consumers to “participate in whatever moves them — whether it be fashion, sport, music, art or activism.” The brand continued to say that it hopes the effort will push them to “pursue their passions, celebrate their individuality and become active participants in the world around them.”

Speaking with FN, Osifeso referred to the phrase “Life is Not a Spectator Sport” as a “modern carpe diem.”

Reebok and Osifeso tapped several people of note from a variety of creative mediums for “Life is Not a Spectator Sport,” including NBA icon Allen Iverson.

“For someone like myself and my relationship with basketball, Allen Iverson is a god culturally, on and off the court. When we were thinking about incorporating people that we have, it was important to have the contemporary artists that we have, but it couldn’t happen without someone like AI. He is Reebok,” Osifeso said. “Newness is a subjective term because I feel like someone like Allen Iverson is almost reborn with every season. I feel like any modern day basketball player owes homage to AI in terms of style of play, and even style of dress. For a holistic view of what we wanted to do this it had to be a there’s no other way.”

“Life is Not a Spectator Sport” is set to original music by Arca with narration by Brent Faiyaz, who are both featured in the campaign. Also included in the effort are London-based rapper Ghetts, singer-songwriter Lolo Zouaï and Nigeria-based singer-songwriter Tems.

Arca Reebok Life is Not a Spectator Sport campaign
A shot of Arca for Reebok’s “Life is Not a Spectator Sport” campaign.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Reebok

The campaign features a hero film with each person sharing their own unique and inspiring story.

“We went into it unscripted. There’s no agenda for what we wanted people to say,” Osifeso said. “My approach was essentially let’s pose the same questions to all of these types of people and really show their personality. Every single person was asked the same exact question and we got such varied responses that were really beautiful. When I look back to being on set and talking to them and we had them miked up, there was a lot of newness.”

He continued, “Even Allen Iverson, someone who we all know for so many years. We were able to capture something that hasn’t been seen before. It was really special. He was telling us how he’s perceived, and I don’t really hear that from his voice much, even in documentaries and stuff like that.”

Although Osifeso said “Life is Not a Spectator Sport” was created to tell a broader Reebok story and was not necessarily designed to promote a particular shoe, at the center of the campaign is the iconic Classic Leather silhouette. Reebok said in a statement that it will expand its Classic Leather offering with its spring ’22 delivery new colorways, refinement and styles.

While the campaign tells a broader Reebok story, Osifeso said he has a great appreciation for the Classic Leather.

“Shoes like the Classic Leather, and a lot of Reebok product, just feels like home. It just feels very comfortable. It’s just a classic product,” Osifeso said. “I don’t want more from it. It has giving me everything that I’ve needed throughout the years, being reinterpreted and used as a platform for collaboration. It’s an incredible product.”

Brent Faiyaz Reebok Life is Not a Spectator Sport campaign
Brent Faiyaz for Reebok’s “Life is Not a Spectator Sport” campaign.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Reebok
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