Droga5 and director Maceo Frost alley-oop for ‘Game Never Stops’, a creative celebration of Hennessy’s NBA partnership, writes LBB’s Laura Swinton
Hennessy is bouncing into the summer with a brand new campaign that puts a creative spin on their role as the first ever global spirit partner of the NBA. Game Never Stops was developed by creative agency Droga5 New York and directed by award-winning director and music producer Maceo Frost. The spot celebrates the influence that both the NBA and basketball as a sport have had throughout culture and across the world.
The creative pairs Maceo Frost’s immersive and kinetic visual style with four pioneering talents from music, photography and fashion each exploring the impact that basketball has had on their work and on pop culture more broadly.
The NBA partnership itself came about because of shared values and now as it rolls into its second year, the Hennessy team are keen to build on the established foundations to flourish.
“We knew for a while that basketball was an important space for Hennessy because the NBA strives to push the limits of its potential in the same ways that we do,” says the team. “We both take pride in our legacy while also constantly looking toward the future and exploring ways that we can continue to expand and grow our communities. We share the NBA’s core values of integrity, teamwork, respect and innovation and we knew that a collaborative journey together would allow us to drive culture forward together. As we enter the second year of our partnership we have already seen the ways that our like-minded attitudes have resulted in an expanded global community of rulebreakers and trendsetters from different fields and walks of life and we are excited to continue to watch this community grow.”
And, of course, there’s also a strategic underpinning to the partnership as it takes the cognac, which is already the rappers’ drink of choice, to the global audience they are trying to reach as well as placing them right in the intersection of sport, music, fashion and art. The LVMH-owned brand is present in over 160 countries, so a global campaign that draws together local creative scenes is a must.
“At Hennessy we are constantly striving to reach a global community that puts themselves out there and wants to put their own stamp on the culture that they love,” explains the team. “The NBA’s cultural impact has spread far beyond the sport of basketball and into the worlds of fashion, music and art which consist of exactly the consumers that we at Hennessy are trying to reach.
“Having a presence within the basketball community is extremely important for the direction that we are taking the brand as it allows us to reach new audiences who may not necessarily be basketball fans but are immersed – maybe even unknowingly – in fields that the game has impacted.”
The campaign features a great array of international talents, such as British musician AJ Tracey, Chinese rapper Masiwei, French fashion designer Stephane Ashpool and Paris-based photographer and filmmaker Kevin Couliau . Each of them has been influenced by basketball culture and are also pushing boundaries in their own way.
When it came to scouting out this talent, the brand had a keen eye and an exacting set of criteria. “All of the talents that we partnered with for the campaign are visionaries, tastemakers and creative leaders who are also basketball enthusiasts and each of their individual love for the game has influenced their work in their respective creative fields,” says the team.
“It was also important to us that the talents selected for the campaign represented a variety of fields and nationalities so that we could accurately showcase how wide the influence of basketball culture truly reaches. Each of the four talents also had pre-existing relationships with Hennessy, which was an important piece in our talent selection process as well.” Indeed, the hero film spotlights the reach of basketball culture across Africa, Asia, North America and Europe.
And just like the artists featured within Game Never Stops, the campaign itself is all about craft. From the Hennessy marketing team’s perspective, there are a number of elements that really help elevate the campaign, namely the copy surrounding the message and the strong visual flair brought in by Maceo Frost.
“First and foremost we believe that the campaign message, ‘Game Never Stops’, sets it apart. ‘Game Never Stops’ is a term that represents the cultural impact that the game of basketball has had beyond the sport itself, celebrating and amplifying the influence that the leagues, the sport, and Hennessy have had on and off the court in so many unique cultural facets of society. ‘Game’ is more than basketball, it’s putting your own creative stamp on the world on and off the court.To us, this message is something not often seen and we think that the call to action for consumers to join in the conversation sets the campaign apart. Additionally, the unique ability of the campaign director – award-winning director and music producer Maceo Frost – to really immerse himself in the lives of his subject matter brings the storytelling of the campaign and video to the next level.”
Beyond the short film, the campaign will also involve a number of activations around the world. The four creative talents featured in the campaign will also collaborate on a series of artistic commissions throughout the global NBA partnership, thus highlighting the connection between Hennessy and the NBA and deepening the exploration of basketball’s influence on pop culture. To learn more about the activations around the world, visit Hennessy.com.