SWL: The #KobeSystem

Feb. 3, 2012, 12:55 a.m.

The idea of loving Kanye West, Kobe Bryant or Aziz Ansari isn’t foreign. But when you put them all together alongside the bests of business and entertainment, in the most dapper of duds and wrapped in self-satirizing Illuminati pretension, that just tickles our fancy into a whole new arena of idolization. We love Nike’s ad campaign: the KobeSystem.

After watching half a dozen of these videos — minute-long YouTube promotions released by nikebasketball– still not quite sure what they’re advertising. Premised around a fictional seminar taught by Kobe Bryant on achieving success beyond success, this unabashedly absurd mini-mini-series showcases the best in the business, in the broadest celebrity-sweeping marketing move since the telethon.

The first installment, “Welcome to the #KobeSystem” introduces the situation and characters, who are all at the top of their games in their respective fields: Leehom Wang (Chinese megastar), Sir Richard Branson (Virgin Airlines) and Aziz Ansari (comedian). Kobe promises the answer to the conundrum of where to go if you╒re at the top: over the top!

A clever logo, visually and metaphorically reminiscent of Mason iconography, adorns each member to the Kobe clan, and Kobe╒s ridiculous black and yellow (blackandyellow) track suit sets the color scheme for the logo and product as well. I think it might be basketball shoes? I can’t be sure.

Following the pilot, later episodes reveal different “levels” of the Kobe System, each ostensibly offering some didactic commentary on varying areas of success, in sports and in life. Of the seven levels released (so far), my favorite, hands down, comes from “Kanye West: Level 6 Beastion”. In 32 succulent seconds, Kanye proves he has the attitude (and maybe even acting skills) to please in any arena. And whoever wrote this cryptic scene has a knack for capturing that alluring sense of enigma while simultaneously parodying the modern trend of blind adulation. And therein lies the secret juice to these sweet videos: They exude pretension, and at the same time, slap it in the face.

The absurdity seeps off the screen, but like some meta-viewing phenomenon, only the truly keen will grasp it in full. The culturally inclined will laugh, bros and basketball freaks will bump fists, but only the critical cognoscenti will appreciate this work for its comedy and artistry. Facetiously celebrating indulgence and elitism — products of hard work rather than passive inheritance, mind you — makes a refreshing return to the world of advertising, where in recent months general opprobrium and one percent-directed detesting has dominated the airwaves. And whatever it is that the #KobeSystem advertises will probably do great in sales — it even has its own hashtag.

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