For this entry of my ongoing series on inspiring visual storytelling sports videos, I take a look at Reebok’s video Hands. A short, sweet, inspiring and authentic spot.
Abstract and motivating story
The first thing that struck me about this video is that there’s no obvious traditional story to be found. There’s no central character or lesson to be learned. A narrator does try to provide some context to the images, she describes how training and growing older leave their mark on both our bodies and souls. I love how simply this premise was integrated into the video. The first three quarters of this story are just a rapid succession of images showing athletes training and performing. They experience moments that leave marks on their hands. Then through a very simple change in the music, the clip makes its final point: for us to become more human.
After watching this video I hadn’t learned some cliche lesson on life though, but was instead left feeling motivated. Motivated to train harder, work harder, try harder, suffer. Go out, train and create some permanent marks on your hands and body as a testament to your hard work and dedication.
No obvious promotion for Reebok
What I liked about this approach is that even though there is no actual story to be found, the video appeals to our emotion instead of obviously promoting Reebok. Instead, the video promotes an attitude, that of hard work. By promoting this attitude, anyone who feels attracted to the mindset will identify with the brand. Of course the athletes in the spot wear Reebok, but the shots where their clothing is visible are authentic and show the apparel in an authentic and credible manner. I feel that this is totally acceptable and does not detract from the message. This tactic of creating content that promotes a feeling over products resonates with me on a deep level, and I feel this is a far more sustainable form of marketing than what we often see when brands focus on promoting themselves.
Cinematography on par, functional music
Of course a video like this always involves a significant level of production, all scenes are staged and extensively lit. Still, I feel that the style of lighting and color grading works well. The scenes are lit, but not in an overly epic or unrealistic way. One thing I only noted after watching the clip a couple of times is that the aspect ratio is very wide, quite possible 21:9 or so. This just adds to the cinematic feel of the spot. In terms of music, I feel the video opts for a safe but functional and appealing option. It starts with a guitar that suggests some climax coming up, with a beat and clapping quickly joining in and building the tension. The big reveal and climax are quite subtle, with just a couple of seconds of excitement in the music bringing the video to its finale. This is in no way innovative, but the clip executes it very well.
All in all I feel that given it short duration and lack of an actual story, the video does really well in promoting an emotion and vision. It is refreshing to see a brand focus on promoting something else than their own product and logo, and Reebok just earned my sympathy with this approach.