Overanalyzing Westbrook’s “Perfect Journey” Commercial
Russell Westbrook unveiled a new commercial on Monday morning, much to the delight of Thunder fans everywhere. The spot, a 1:43 mini-documentary of sorts for luggage company, TUMI, is a total love-fest between Oklahoma City and its favorite transplanted son. Whether it be locals praising Westbrook, Westbrook praising the locals, or his reference to OKC as “home,” it’s an emotional boost for anyone anxiously awaiting his decision for the future.
Here’s the spot:
With Westbrook set for another career/franchise altering decision this summer (his 5-year, $219 million “supermax” extension), I decided to dive into some thoughts regarding this newest promo. July 1 seems so far away…
(1) My heart swells, but Oklahoma City looks somewhat post-apocalyptic. I get the vibe TUMI is going for, and the black/white footage certainly lends itself to what I’m describing, but man…. Oklahoma City does not look like a fun place to hang out in this commercial. We do get a few brief shots of downtown, but for the most part it ends up looking like the set of The Road.
The most modern item in the entire spot is Westbrook’s luggage, which makes sense considering the sponsor… but even the fancy suitcase gets inexplicably left on the roof of McNellie’s at the end. You walked all the way across town just to leave your luggage on top of an Irish pub? Why have things gotten so bleak?
(2) About that contract extension. As Royce pointed out on Twitter, it would be awfully strange to drop this commercial and then not sign the contract extension. Not because we should take advertisements as insight into the future, but because the intent of the message seems pretty clear. I’m loyal. I love my city. My city loves me. I’m not going anywhere, so I don’t need luggage, but if I did I would use TUMI.
I think we’ve all learned our lesson when it comes to reading tea leaves, but Russ isn’t anything if he’s not intentional. So maybe he left that suitcase atop McNellie’s for a reason? He’s staying, isn’t he? “I’m so serious about staying that I left my suitcase on the roof at McNellie’s.”
(3) The people. I have no snarky comments in regard to the people in the commercial, because they are about as Oklahoma as it gets. Whether it be the kids, the barber or the man who simply states “He means the world to a bunch of us here,” I thought the love the city has for its superstar was perfectly articulated. Well done.
-Guy who usually thinks Oklahomans are horrifically misrepresented
(4) “He cares more about Oklahoma than he does the money.” Shout out to the gentleman who says Russ cares more about Oklahoma than money — I think we would all love to believe that. But even though we could never prove it for sure, the good news is that it doesn’t matter what he loves more. Either way you look at it, OKC has what he’s looking for.
Is it about the money? The Thunder can offer $219 million over the course of five years.
Is it about loyalty? Even better, here’s a pen.
The beauty in Westbrook’s situation is that he can sign the richest contract in league history while simultaneously strengthening his reputation as the most loyal player in the game. If it comes down to valuing money and/or loyalty, OKC has the inside track regardless of which is more important.
(5) In Russ We Trust. I don’t know when this phrase was coined, but it’s turned into a way of life for Thunder fans. What started out as a way to offer support for one of the league’s most criticized players has seemingly transformed into actual trust. Like “I trust you not to break me” type stuff.
While all of that is well and good, there is obvious risk involved when going all-in on a professional athlete. And as much as we’d like to find his concrete intentions here, the reality is that it’s an advertisement. A very well done advertisement, sure, but an advertisement nonetheless. I trust Russ to make his decision in time, and tip his hand when the time is right.
Hurry up and wait, Thunder fans. And get your luggage from TUMI.