Isn't it, ahem, just that little bit early-Nineties?

ADS No 164: ADIDAS

What's the shelf-life of an advertising style? When does an ad move from looking leading-edge to seeming just that bit early- Nineties? Is it about tonality, or content, or just particular cliches?

Something of the kind seems to hang heavy over the new Adidas treatment featuring Prince Naseem. It's got lots of attitude, lots of everything you'd expect from the brand - and it all seems awfully familiar.

It's about when "our" Prince comes to "their" city: meaning the Manhattan skyline, seen from an incoming ship, in monochrome. Then - shades of all those films and ads - we're above the city and on a rooftop. There's a silhouette, arms outstretched like Rio's mountain Christ. It's a dreadlocked Jamaican in preacher mode, talking very intensely about our boy: "You will salute him; you will fall before him. He will not be defeated." Watch out America!

This is by way of introduction to Naseem himself, who appears initially in swift intercut flashbacks in the gym, working away on the punchbag. Then it's fast-forward to him arriving on the Big Boat, with the deserted dockside and the waiting cars - shades of everything from On the Waterfront onwards. Naseem is absolutely "looking the business": "well hard", with a George Michael Roman haircut and sharp everything. He does a neat trick, cartwheeling over the ship's rail and onto the quay, throwing his grip before him, road-movie style, landing on American soil. Then there's a shot of the Prince's exotic shorts, laid out pre-fight in princely style.

It ends with a graphic moment. White type on a plain background, saying: "Prince Naseem. Here on business." Just typical of the tremendous OTT gravitas you get with sports-style religiosity.

Three or four years ago, this would've looked extremely smart. But, nicely directed though it is, it now looks cliched, and all the intensity just tends to compound it.

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