The Jordan brand's new ambassador doesn't play in the NBA but in the CBA, the Chinese Basketball Association. Guo Ailun, a member of the Liaoning Flying Leopards who also plays for China's national team, is the first Chinese player to be signed by Nike's Jordan brand.
This spot from AKQA's Shanghai office welcomes Guo into the fold of stars signed by Jordan, a move marking the 20th anniversary of the brand's entry into greater China. It's notable in its very abstract treatment of the announcement, with no actual shots of Guo.
The ad opens on a custodian about to enter a mysterious chamber -- almost blinded by the lights emanating from it. A voiceover from Michael Jordan says, "Welcome to the spotlight," as the man heads in. There, he finds what appears to be a museum-like locker room, which stores the jerseys, shoes and gear of other Jordan stars: Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Jimmy Butler, Blake Griffin, Kawhi Leonard and Russell Westbrook. At the end, the custodian hangs up new uniform, Guo's.
Accompanying the artsy visuals is copywriting that is a tad mystic. Jordan's monologue closes with an oblique reference to Guo's pioneer status as a representative of the Jordan brand. "You are the first. Countless have dreamed of this. Represent them. Represent me. Represent yourself." There's no explanation until the end, when a message flashes on the screen: "We are Jordan. Guo Ailun, welcome to the family."
Basketball is big in China, and the Jordan brand is a status symbol there, though it also has struggled through a long trademark battle. For years, a big Chinese brand called Qiaodan has been using the Chinese characters that are commonly associated with Jordan's name. In December, Jordan won a partial court victory in his battle to seize back the rights.