I wrote the Impossible is Nothing manifesto that helped sell the tagline (by Boyd Coyner) and global campaign to adidas for their major brand re-launch during the Olympics. It continues to resonate and get passed around on the internet, quoted by celebrities, and misattributed to Muhammad Ali. Which is super flattering! But also a little frustrating. But mostly great!
This campaign was recently named the top marketing moment from the last 120 years by the Advertising Club of New York. And with Muhammad Ali's passing, the manifesto has been (mistakenly) showing up in a lot of "top ten Ali quotes" lists, in celebrity speeches, posts, tweets, and even in the Restoration Hardware catalog.
When the campaign originally launched, OOH ran in cities across the globe, and in Athens, the headlines reflected each adidas athlete's “impossible” goal at those Olympic games.
The print featured a huge poster and the “impossible” stories of 14 adidas athletes, one teenager with a broken wrist, and five kids in the middle of nowhere. Like: The first time he stepped into the ring, Muhammad Ali was told he was too scrawny to be a boxer. (You can still buy the posters on ebay.)
The entire manifesto was translated into several languages for a global print and outdoor campaign, and even sold on T-shirts. I got a lot of really nice fan letters from all over the world and adidas got a lot of emails requesting copies of the poster.
Back-translating my own words from Japanese was a pretty funny experience. But getting fan letters from people on the other side of the planet about how my words affected them, and continuing to see how they affect people still today...That's pretty incredible.
At the 10 minute mark, watch JT quote me, thinking he's quoting Ali.
David Beckham posted it in memory of Ali.
The backside of the original poster. It ran as an insert.
OOH in Athens during the Olympics. "Impossible is breaking your own record. Impossible is coming from nowhere."
Brooklyn / Bombay
It shows up on Instagram a lot.
People chop it up, make it their own.
This might be my favorite misattribution. An adidas ad with a swoosh at the end. Ha!
Here it is again, in the Restoration Hardware catalog.
Piperlime: Let's Get Dressed
Piperlime.com was an online clothing, shoes and accessories boutique, owned by The Gap. We pitched the Piperlime business with the idea that Americans had become too sloppy, too casual, too “sweatpants and flip flops,” and that it was time to rally the country to dress well again. And Piperime's put-together aesthetic made them the perfect brand to raise this point. We won the pitch. We made the campaign. And we launched in NYC during fashion week with a multimedia campaign seen all over the city, and subways. There was also a pop up shop. Rachel Zoe was there. It was a thing. But when it hit Social Media...that's when it the idea really took off.
Some stay-at-home moms and fans of yoga pants took offense, but more importantly, we galvanized the target market we were after by saying something that they were itching to say themselves.
Piperlime got thousands more fashion-forward Facebook fans, a big bump in new customers visiting their site, and started a lot conversation. If you like numbers, “likes” increased by 934%, and there was a 479% increase in comments on Piperlime’s Facebook page during the first week of the campaign.
Our brave clients loved it and signed on for some more Let's Get Dressed ads the following spring.
MINI vs. Porsche
Some people don't know that the little MINI is full of horsepower, has go-cart handling and has a history of winning rally car championships. So we had to remind them. And MINI likes to go big, so we figured why not challenge Porsche to a race? Publicly. Say, with a full-page ad in the New York Times and a youtube video calling out Porsche USA’s president directly, by name. And why not fly a banner plane over Porsche headquarters while we’re at it? Oh, and also broadcast the race live on Facebook?
(Gold Effie winner)
It was a big project. I didn't write the body copy for the NYT ad, Lyle Yetman did. But I wrote the headline and this is the easiest way to show you what the idea was at a glance. Lyle and and Steve Mapp were the CDs and leads. But my partner Alex Rice and I had the same idea at the same time, so we all executed it together. Nice, right? It was nice. They're nice guys. I wrote everything else you see here.
MINI USA | MINI vs Porsche
Don't forget to look at the T-shirts.
We hired a plane to do a fly-by over Porche's HQ in Atlanta. Yes for real.
Press piece (sent to sports writers).
MINI Interactive Billboard, etc.
Our German clients wanted something a little naughtier. Naughty Germans. Also here: some fun MINI work I got to do when gas prices were really high.
Copy: With a fuel-efficient 5.41 per 100km combined with its signature go-kart handling, the MINI Cooper is a responsible choice. It just doesn't feel that way.
adidas TV, etc.
Here are some more fun things I got to do for adidas.
adidas "Sleep Run"
adidas "Chicken Legs"
Liquid Plumr destroys annoying clogs.
Liquid Plumr "Shower"
Liquid Plumr "Sink"
Liquid Plumr "Am Not"
The Shack likes goofy spots.
And Tiffany songs. And freedom. And sweaters.
Were asked to highlight the powerful, iconic, scent of clean that can only be Pine-Sol. So we decided to talk about Pine-Sol from a nose's point of view.
We even tried to shoot some commercials all scrappy-like that featured talking nostrils, but the budget of zero dollars didn't cover more than one round of nostril special effects experimentation, which is a damn shame, because until you've seen nostrils talking like mouths, you haven't seen nostrils talking like mouths.
Tilex is a powerful weapon against mold and scum.
Copy: Bust the scum.
Copy: Teach mold a lesson.
SOREL fashion film, print, etc.
Sorel boots had been protecting feet from extreme cold since 1962, but it was time to conquer some new territory. So we created the Apres Anything campaign for Vogue to announce that Sorel had a new look, and was ready to step off the mountain and into the fashion world. This effort also included how-to-wear-it videos on Vogue.tv, The Sugar Network, and Style.com, Daily Candy email blasts, styling contests, and a lot of fashion blog seeding. It worked. Sorel boots have been selected as the footwear in numerous fashion shows and have also been seen on the feet of movie stars and high-profile fashion magazine editors. (Both the "boots with the fur" and the more classic Caribous.)
In the second round of ads, we gave even more story to the images: Brazen women laying waste to things that they had felt trapped by. We saw each ad as a still from a film. And we actually got to film the whole story for one of the ads. I mean, who doesn't like a lady in a gown with a shotgun?
F360 / Sorel 'Fearless' Vogue Fashion Film / produced for Butler Shine Stern and Partners
These are posters for the Flip Mino digital video camera that ran at CES. The Flip was pocket-sized and meant to be taken around with you at all times, just in case. Tagline: Flip Mino. Take video. (One Show)