Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant recently filmed a new ad for Nike that is raising eyebrows (video below).
According to Uproxx.com, the "egomaniacal" ad is airing in China (in English with Chinese subtitles), but Americans can view it on the Web.
In the "Don't Love Me Hate Me" ad, Bryant glares at the camera and the video cuts to his adoring fans and, seconds later, him playing basketball.
"You love me," Bryant states very seriously. "You love me because I'm Kobe. Because I'm a five-time champion. Because I'm one of the greatest to step on the court."
The camera cuts to an intense close-up of Bryant's eyes and he says, "But you shouldn't. You should hate me. Hate me. Because I gave you 4 a.m. Because I pushed you when no one else would. Hate me. Because I demanded greatness. Greatness demands everything. Love me when you become greater."
Terence Leong, creative director of Wieden + Kennedy Shanghai, the ad agency that produced the commercial, told AdWeek:
Kobe has an intimate relationship with the Chinese ballers, so he knows exactly how to teach and motivate them.
Together with Nike China and Kobe, our team crafted the script and made sure the film was just as provocative as the man himself. It was an intense and uncompromising process because Kobe was just as demanding on the creative team as he was on the Lakers.
[Kobe] chose to focus on becoming a legend rather than being a hero. When it comes to winning, Kobe is willing to push himself to risk everything. Because standing back and doing nothing, that's real failure. This philosophy is very Nike "Just do it," and Kobe is the perfect person to deliver this spirit of Nike.
However, USA TODAY writer Charlotte Wilder notes: "It’s very hard not to laugh as you watch Kobe Bryant mean mug at the camera in this new Nike ad airing in China, because it’s almost guaranteed you’ve never seen someone take themselves so seriously before. His ego is absolutely on fuego."