As Dwyane Wade writes the final chapter of his NBA career, he leaves the league as one of the best to play the game. He also leaves a legacy of goodwill and inspiration through his many ways of giving back, including the Dwyane Wade Foundation, Spotlight On initiative and Pitch Black concept.
Budweiser, in keeping with other tributes to Derek Jeter and Dale Earnhardt Jr., is honoring Wade’s career both on and off the court with a touching film showing him exchanging jerseys with fans he’s impacted.
Wade’s final season has seen him swap jerseys with fellow NBA stars like Dirk Nowitzki, LeBron James and others. In keeping with that theme, the emotional film by Budweiser shows Wade exchanging shirts and jerseys with those fans.
The video centers on Wade thinking he is showing up to simply meet fans, but once he arrives, he learns they’re actually waiting with items to swap with him. Through these items, they tell the story of how Wade has impacted their lives in positive and moving ways.
As he stands in the middle of a basketball court, he is greeted by five people, who all come bearing shirts, graduation gowns and coats to exchange with a man who helped change their lives., including a woman who’s home burned down and Wade helped her and her family get back on her feet; a lawyer who was able to attend college because of a scholarship Wade and his foundation supported; a man who overcame his tough situation to grow into a mentor for others, thanks to Wade’s youth center in Miami; and the sister of Joaquin Oliver, a student killed in the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting and to whom Wade dedicated his season.
Perhaps most touching, though, is Wade’s mother, Jolinda. She comes face-to-face with Wade to tell her story of going to prison and her redemption. After being released from prison, Jolinda was at one of the lowest points in her life. To help turn her life around, Wade bought her a church. Since that day, she has remained clean and has become a pastor and a leader in her community. She gives him her ministry robe.
“This idea came to us from VaynerMedia,” said Monica Rustgi, Budweiser’s vice-president of marketing. “We thought the best way to start [casting] would be through the Dwyane Wade Foundation. The journey of finding the roster of people in the spot kept getting more meaningful as we progressed. Once we contacted the (Foundation) we learned that it was actually Dwyane Wade’s sister, Tragil, who leads the foundation. With that, this ultimately became a family affair.”
Rustgi said that they told Tragil Wade that the brand wanted to tell stories that meaningfully showed his character off the court. “She helped us to find these stories. The most interesting part of these stories is, she has every single one of these people in her phone…Just from the get-go knowing that Tragil had a long-term relationship with these people, there was a lot of trust in telling these stories that were very deep and personal,” she said, adding that the team was literally in tears as they watched the production unravel live. “We were so in awe of his mother. Her story is quite compelling.”
The film and supporting campaign will go live via Budweiser’s social channels and will air on local Miami TV and in the American Airlines Arena tonight (April 9).
“We wanted to make sure we did justice to the stories, fully. We’re proud of our ability to honor Wade and shed light on his character,” said Rustgi.
She stated that Budweiser strategy is to not only insert itself into the conversation, but to really shed light on the impact athletes have on the communities they represent, whether it be their mothers, or their fans.
“A big part of what we like to do, due to our access, is bring the athletes that much closer to their fans,” she said.
To help do that, Budweiser is extending the campaign to allow consumers to share, on social media, three things that Dwyane Wade has done to impact their lives, for a chance to get a jersey signed by him. “It’s almost like a virtual jersey swap. We’re also offering light and snackable ways for them to engage via Instagram as well as Twitter. We wanted to not just stop at the film, but continue to bring the fans closer to Dwyane.”
See the full four-minute film by clicking on the Creative Works box below.