Reebok have been flexing on Hollywood hardware ever since the Pump landed in Dominique Wilkins’ hands back in 1989. Since then, the ‘Bok have been providing us with sneaker advertisements featuring everything from the awkward, to the spectacular, to the downright bizarre. Allen Iverson on the dribble, Jay-Z in the studio, and Jonah Hill on a cosmic trip, these are the best Reebok commercials ever to hit the tube.
5. Don’t Bother Tryin’
Reebok inked a sneaker deal with 50 Cent shortly after his epic debut album, Get Rich or Die Tryin’. The ‘Bok quickly desecrated any artistic integrity of the Queens rapper with a truly whack commercial, pairing him up with casual hip-hop combatant Jay-Z for a one-minute freestyle featuring everything from coordinated creeps (00:15) to the heavy-handed references of Reebok’s entire back catalogue. By the end of this commercial, 50 Cent was worth about 10, and Jay-Z decided this was the first and last track they’d ever do together. This one’s so nasty that it’s tasty.
4. Don’t Fake the Funk
After the obligatory flex of some fledgling CGI (Shaquille O’Neal peels through an inexplicable, translucent wall), Shaq is tasked with tearing down the ring in front of NBA legends Russell, Chamberlain, Kareem and Walton. Shaq gets serious hang time in 1993’s Shaq Attaq Pump original, the leather and suede build featuring some fresh pump tech on the tongue and Graphlite. The sneaker was Shaq’s first link up with Reebok for a signature line. But the real MVP? When Kareem displays the dustpan for Shaq to clean up the broken glass. Destroying the rim? Check. Just don’t ask Shaq to take a free throw — even if it is a parallel universe.
3. They Even Put a Zone in the League to Try and Stop Him
Using the squeak of the RBK A5, and Allen Iverson’s unearthly ball handles as the backing track, Reebok threw down one of the better lyrical performances seen in advertising (Check ‘em out it’s the new A5s you gotta rock ‘em / they even put a zone in the league to try and stop him). 2001 was a huge year for Allen Iverson, nabbing the league MVP award as well as linking up with Reebok for his fifth signature shoe. A lesson in well-executed minimalism, the design team added a burst of red to Iverson’s full leather RBK A5, presenting an open court for the future Hall of Famer to simply do his thing.
2. Powerful, Sexual Footwear
Comedy has shifted its lens in recent years to incorporate some of the more obscure, psychedelic corners of the American consciousness. Case in point: The Palace link up with Reebok for the Club C. Tapping jawnz God Jonah Hill, the Reebok commercial embraces a spectrum of bad visual effects, awkward acting, and out of sync editing to absolutely stick the landing with the London skate brand. Hill puts it in context better than we ever could: ‘it’s like having sex with a rare white tiger on your birthday … and it’s also his birthday as well’.
1. This is No Bull …
Speaking of sex, did someone sell Dennis Rodman his virginity back? Before all the ink, partying, international bro-downs with Kim Jong-un, and at-home Hollywood with Jean-Claude Van Damme, Rodman was throwing his weight around for the Detroit Pistons and starring in Reebok’s classic ‘Pump Up and Air Out’ ad campaigns. The commercial is an undisputed classic, with Rodman giving us a glimpse of those MVP feet while wearing the Reebok Omni Pump Lite. Raw, corny, and utterly brilliant, our number one pick will trigger so much nostalgia it’s hard not to wipe a tear and remember a more innocent time in sneakers, basketball, and life itself.