Beats by Dre, taking an unconventional approach to a holiday ad, dug through some private archives and came up with a montage of images of LeBron James and his son, Bronny, giving viewers a heart-tugging peek into their bond.
Among the visuals: LeBron cuddling with the infant Bronny, play-wrestling with him as a tween and marking birthdays, violin recitals, fishing trips and, of course, basketball games.
It’s not the first time this father-son duo have starred in a Beats ad. That came only a few months ago, with an on-court matchup between the two athletes, whose Beats earbuds were playing completely different tunes.
But as a seasonal push for the Apple-owned brand, creatives at agency of record Translation asked Savannah James, the matriarch of the James family, for permission to comb through material that had never been released publicly.
“It wasn’t about finding the most beautiful, highly produced imagery,” Jason Campbell, chief creative officer at Translation, told Adweek. “In fact, we gravitated toward the raw, the real, the home footage that really showed LeBron and Bronny as father and son and helped give more meaning to LeBron’s voiceover.”
That narration gives the black-and-white spot its emotional punch, with LeBron admitting he was scared when his first son was born.
“But I kept trying, and as you grew, so did I,” LeBron says on the video. “Patience, commitment, joy—things I learned from basketball, but really, I understood from you.”
While highlighting a personal connection, the creative team—named Adweek’s 2022 Multicultural Agency of the Year—aimed to embed a broader message in the spot, which features an emotional soundtrack from Grammy-nominated artist Leon Thomas.
“We don’t hear enough stories celebrating Black fatherhood,” Campbell said. “And when we do, it’s usually about the absentee father myth. But the truth is that Black fathers are among the most present in their children’s lives.”
Beats wanted to continue its storytelling tradition, presenting its products as “multigenerational” and humanizing the talent “by sharing their experiences off the court,” according to Chris Thorne, the brand’s CMO.
“Fatherhood” could have easily been a Father’s Day campaign, but Beats dropped it now for a few specific reasons.
“We wanted to capture the warm sentiment of family, which rings true for consumers regardless of how they celebrate the holidays,” Thorne told Adweek. “This season traditionally signifies a time of reflection, change and optimism for the future, and LeBron’s testimony of experiencing fatherhood perfectly brings those themes to life.”
Sponsorship trivia: LeBron was the first athlete that Beats ever signed to an endorsement deal, and Bronny recently inked his own Beats agreement, becoming the first high school player to link with the company. That alliance was made possible by new NIL rules that allow high school and college athletes to become official brand partners.
Product placement is intentionally light in the 49-second spot, but sharp-eyed viewers will see Bronny as a child wearing old-school Beats headphones, “a full-circle moment in our long-standing relationship with the James family,” Thorne said. The final shot has father and son equipped with Beats Studio Buds and Beats Fit Pro.
The ad is airing across social channels, including Beats’ Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.