If you were just sent the link today to a video featuring J.B. Smoove accosting Ralph Macchio in a coffee shop and asking to see his balls — the ones on the bottom of his Reebok RunTones — you probably weren’t 100 percent sure if Reebok was behind the video. If you’re a Jimmy Kimmel Live fan, you knew the answer. This is the second campaign Reebok and the late-night show have collaborated on. Earlier this year, John Lynch, head of Reebok’s U.S. marketing and merchandising, got a call from a Kimmel producer asking if they’d ever consider doing something with the show. Reebok was launching a new sneaker, ZigTech, last March, and wanted to reach young men, which Kimmel delivers, so they bit. “We can’t pay Kimmel to do something that’s gonna be boring or just totally commercial. It has to be something that’s entertaining for viewers,” Lynch says. “The reaction from the people at Kimmel to both things we’ve done is that it’s the kind of entertainment that perfectly fits with what their audience is about, too.”
The creative collaboration began with three voyeuristic videos — Chuck Liddell working out at home naked in only Zigs, Chad Ochocinco running naked in a park wearing only Zigs, and Dax Shepard nude mini-golfing in Zigs — popping up on the Web and Kimmel cracking jokes about them in his monologue. Then all three men appeared on Kimmel on March 11 — “fully clothed,” Lynch notes — to reveal/confirm the campaign.
When it came to promote RunTones to Reebok’s target male demo, young twentysomethings who are in the gym and don’t want to neglect their lower bodies, U.S. Head of Public Relations, Jenny Shanley, got the idea for “no more chicken legs.” They took the concept to Kimmel with the notion that Smoove, a former SNL writer and Curb Your Enthusiasm vet who became the best part of Fox’s ‘Til Death, might have fun with it, and the Kimmel crew suggested they pair him with Macchio, who recently had a viral hit with the Funny or Die Exclusive Wax On, F*ck Off, which showcased the kind of subversive, irreverent comedy he enjoys.
Reebok and Kimmel worked on an outline, but the actors improvised what you see during a four or five-hour sh00t in a Los Angeles coffee shop. “The guys love the shoes, and they’re excited to see if in a good six months, they’re gonna have some really filled-out calves,” Shanley says. “So, the pressure’s on us.”
Will we see more Reebok-Kimmel collaborations? Reebok hopes so. Are they looking to branch into other shows? “Not particularly,” Lynch says. “We’re looking to keep things special. If you try to do 25 things like this, then it’s not so special.” Watch the video, which Macchio and Smoove debuted on Kimmel last night, below.