When your copywriter is a poet. When your poet is Tupac.

All I knew was the voiceover. Poetic. Powerful. Thought-provoking. Thoughtful. So I did what I do when confronted with really good copy. I looked up the ad. I wanted to know who wrote it. Who won the battles you know you'll have to fight when you bring a rose metaphor to the table? A rose metaphor in a spot for Powerade. Who made this happen?

Short answer: Wieden + Kennedy.

And Tupac Shakur.

First, my ignorance. I didn't know this was Derek Rose. I didn't know who Derek Rose was at all. (Sorry basketball fans.) I didn't know this commercial was a close approximation of his childhood. And I didn't know that the copy wasn't written by a copywriter. I just knew it was so, so good.

You see, you wouldn’t ask why the rose that grew from the concrete had damaged petals. On the contrary, we would all celebrate its tenacity. We would all love its will to reach the sun. Well, we are the roses. This is the concrete. These are my damaged petals. Don’t ask me why. Ask me how.
— Tupac Shakur

Turns out, the entire voiceover is from Mama's Just a Little Girl, a track on Tupac Shakur's fourth posthumous studio album,  Better Dayz. (If you want to know more about that, wiki.) So if you didn't know any of this either, take a minute and watch the spot again, thinking about how many levels it works on. First: lyrical, relatable text from Tupac, performed by Tupac. Instant street cred. BUT because it ties so perfectly to Derek Rose's personal story, to Derek Rose's NAME, it doesn't feel false. It doesn't feel icky. It isn't false or icky. It's true. The footage is fantastic. We don't need dialogue, we don't need the young man telling us what his life's like. We feel it. The VO tells us everything we need to know. We see his determination, his drive. 

And if you know Derek Rose, you know that right now he's injured, bringing another level of meaning to the "damaged petals" phrasing.

This is REALLY good ad-making. Someone knew this track. They tied it to Derek Rose, they tied it to Powerade's new tagline (which is also REALLY good: Power Through? Come on!).

Did it work? Will I buy Powerade? Let's see. It gave me a positive feeling about the brand. I took the time to post on it. I learned more about Tupac and gained a deeper appreciation of his work, so I'm actually thankful for the time spent. And if I went to buy a sports beverage, yep, I would think about it. And I've never bought anything but Gatorade because I liked that brand's inception story. But I may like this story even more.


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