Champs Taps Westbrook For Ad Push

Champ-SportsWhen it comes to a spokesperson deal, if you’re a star athlete you don’t necessarily have to be playing to be playing. Oklahoma City Thunder All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook may be sitting on the bench for the post season after a collision with Houston's Patrick Beverley put him in knee surgery, but he's not being sidelined. Champs Sports athletic-good retail chain is putting him on the court to back Nike's Jordan brand. Champs, a 552-store division of New York-based Footlocker, is featuring Westbrook in a new advertising campaign for Jordan apparel and footwear.

The effort, via L.A.-based Zambezi, Mothership and Digital Domain, features a 30-second television commercial in which a high school basketball player picks up Jordan brand gear at a Champs Sports store and “becomes” Westbrook: when he dons the outers, he looks into a mirror and sees Westbrook looking back. 

The player again morphs into Westbrook while driving to the basket in practice, leading his basketball team in a pre-game ritual and hoisting a state championship banner in front of hundreds of applauding classmates. At the end, the player spots Westbrook roaming the halls of his school and gives him a nod as a show of respect.  

The spot hit TV and online through digital media placements appearing on the sites of key sports and lifestyle media partners beginning May 15. It began in cinema May 17 and will be on network and cable TV broadcasts, including the NBA Conference Finals, starting May 20.

Frank Bracken, VP marketing at New York-based Champs Sports, said in a statement that the company's ability "to tell this campaign story through TV, cinema, digital and social media means we can surround the consumer with our story in the most relevant media places this summer."

The mall-based retailer earlier this year ran another NBA-focused campaign for Adidas featuring Damian Lillard, Von Miller and Iman Shumpert. The Tumblr-centric ad campaign promoted Champs Sports and the latest "adicolor" Collection from Adidas Originals. 

Until last year, Champs Sports was a multi-year title sponsor of the Florida Citrus Sports annual college football bowl game. The company is still sponsoring at a lower level, but this year it's the Russell Athletic Bowl and in 2014 it will be the Capital One Bowl.

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