If you're a sports fan who spends much time on the Internet, chances are high you've come across something called "The Return of D. Rose." It's a series of web videos, produced by Adidas, that chronicle the return of star point guard and sneaker pitchman Derrick Rose from a major knee injury.
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Last week, we did a short rundown of how the player and brand have used the web to turn misfortune into great marketing. More recently, we caught up with Ryan Morlan, Adidas' director of marketing for basketball, for the inside story behind the digital-first campaign.
A star sneaker endorser going down with a serious injury would typically be a brand's worst-case senario. But Morlan says an "overwhelming" outpouring of support for Rose from fans on social media created a unique opportunity perfectly suited for the digital age.
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As Rose worked his way back way to playing shape, Morlan says, "we felt a responsibility to let fans feel like they're a part of this process."
Rose tore his anterior cruciate ligament in the first game of last season's playoffs. Voted the 2011 NBA MVP, he has his own line of shoes as Adidas' biggest basketball name.
He plays for the Chicago Bulls, was a high school phenom in the same city, and is generally regarded as one of the league's brightest and most humble young stars. In a recent clip that's gone viral among sports fans, Rose sobs at a press conference while thanking his fans and family and juxtaposing his own success with the violence that plagues his hometown.
Morlan says a social media emphasis was an easy choice for "The Return" campaign, given how much player and brand wanted to make sure Rose's fans felt connected. The YouTube platform and serialized mini-doc format provided a perfect opportunity to give fans access to footage not seen anywhere else and break the story into digital-sized chunks.
"You cannot deny the power and reach of YouTube, especially with a teenage basketball player," Morlan says. "And we knew there was this threshold of about a three-minute attention span with the consumer. We wanted to give you content you could see, feel good about and then hopefully continue the conversation on Twitter."
In the month since the campaign launched, three installments of what will eventually be a six-part documentary plus a couple promotional spots have gained a total of more than 3.3 million YouTube views. The first two documentary installments are over a million views apiece.
The release of each new video -- which typically run about three minutes and feature a mix of candid interviews, dramatic music and intimate rehab footage -- inspires a wave of buzz on Twitter among basketball fans and regularly inspires fan tweets such as this one:
— ⇦Anthony ツ♪♬♬ (@Baster_mated) September 20, 2012
Ryan says that feedback on Twitter is essential to achieving the campaign's goal of making fans feel included in Rose's return. At the end of each video, fan tweets are displayed and the external website aggregates tweets and Instagram photos from around the world that feature the hashtag #TheReturn.
The final three installments of "The Return" will run over the next month and lead into the start of the NBA season. The series' first episode is embedded above, and you can check out other videos here. On a lighter note, meanwhile, you won't want to miss this awesome mashup of "The Return" with a trailer for "The Dark Knight Rises."
Do you think YouTube mini-docs can grow as marketing tools? What are some of the best examples you've seen? Give us your thoughts in the comments.
This story originally published on Mashable here.
- Sports & Recreation
- Arts & Entertainment
- Derrick Rose