I had the opportunity to work on a commercial for Express which became a turning point in my career.
Early in 2015, NBA’s Stephen Curry was signed-on to be the male brand ambassador for Express. Around that same time, I started freelancing at Express as a video editor.
Shortly after becoming brand ambassador, the marketing team shot footage of Stephen in a blue 1MX dress shirt and tie, dribbling and moving as if playing basketball. Since the 1MX shirt is made with a stretchy material, showing a lot of movement symbolized the ability for the shirt to be more or less “ready for anything.”
After the shoot, the team was looking at me like “hey, here is this footage, maybe we can make a video using just this one look, can you do something cool with it?” Though the shoot concept was cool and unique, there wasn’t really a strong concept for a final video, as the purpose of the photoshoot was mostly for photo assets. I accepted the challenge.
Like most of my edits, it started with a song that has a good beat to align my cuts. The more dynamic the better. My boss Chris suggested “That Did It” by Sleigh Bells feat. Tink — we went with it.
As time went on, I would chisel away at the footage and make selects while simultaneously working on other projects. However, something was happening that was causing a lot of hustle and bustle at the office — Stephen was well on his way to getting selected as the 2014-2015 NBA MVP.
In time, the video went from being something extra to something with a lot of potential. “What if he wins? Could this be his announcement video? If the timing is right, could this go viral?” These thoughts and a million others ran through our heads as I continued to work on this piece.
We changed copy from talking about the shirt to talking about Stephen. We made a version with “MVP” lingo if he would win, and we also made a version without the lingo in case he were to lose.
At the Express HQ, we were all (the entire company) so antsy to find out if Stephen was selected as the MVP, especially Chris and I. We knew we had something good on our hands, and that we had an opportunity to ride the wave of the MVP announcement.
The video was queued up in YouTube, and I was essentially on standby with my finger on the “publish” button to mark it from private to public. I felt like a soldier with nuclear codes, anxiously waiting for the signal from the president to launch.
Finally, it happened. Stephen Curry was announced MVP and we were able to launch the video 6 minutes after the public announcement — 6 minutes!
I’m extremely proud with how it turned out — it’s probably my favorite portfolio piece. Not necessarily because it’s Stephen Curry (was never a huge NBA fan), but because all of the excitement around it. I’m also proud I was able to help create something with such a strong and unique personality from what was essentially one long take of Stephen dribbling a ball in a shirt and tie.
Though the spot never had a chance to make it to broadcast television, it reached a few million views on YouTube before being taken down for licensing reasons. Versions of the spot also made it to Times Square. For now, it will live on my Vimeo page for archival and portfolio purposes.
This spot became a cornerstone for future videos at Express. We liked the fast type popping on screen and decided to use it in several other videos, including the Karlie Kloss denim commercial later that year, which did make it to TV!
And since the first video was such a hit, we tried it again a few months later, except this time we used a basketball court as the set. It’s a little different, but follows the essential qualities of the original “MVP” spot.
It was such a stroke of luck for Express that Stephen would go on to have a monumental season and receive such an enormous amount of press. He sported Express on the Jimmy Kimmel Show and also made the cover of a Wheaties box while wearing Express. It seemed he genuinely liked the brand/clothing and would wear it publicly all time time.
Stephen has moved on to become a historical and iconic NBA all-star to the likes of Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Shaquille O’Neil, and LeBron James.
In fact, just last week, Stephen was announced as the 2015–2016 MVP — with a first-ever unanimous decision — making it even more set-in-stone that Stephen Curry is one of the greats, if not the greatest.
Stephen Curry is now a legend. Props to you, Stephen, and thanks for making me feel like a part of the saga.