Russell Wilson on his Nike ad and West2East Empire production company

Russell Wilson wants people to know that he is more than just a Super Bowl-winning quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks. He’s also a creative entrepreneur and chief executive officer of West2East Empire, a production company which just made a commercial for Wilson’s Nike shoe in roughly three days.

Wilson and his team at West2East Empire, including creative director Daniel Mogg, created the spot ‘Winner Stays’ for his Nike Alpha Menace II Player Edition cleat that was recently released. Rather than just star in the commercial, the production team created the entire spot in support of the shoe.

The team wanted to create excitement around the shoe and connect it to youth football through the creative. The team created the spot on spec and did everything from casting, to location scouting, shooting, creative direction and more. Once it was created, West2East and Wilson worked with Nike to release the video, tied to his Russell Wilson Passing Academy camp for kids aged eight to 17.

In the spot, a group of kids is seen sneaking into a dirt lot at a construction yard. There, they have a spirited game of flag football. After one kid thinks he’s scored a touch down, he is called back by the girl who grabbed his flag. Then Wilson comes in, blowing a whistle. The kids flock to him. He states, “I got next.” The kids counter with “winner stays,” meaning the loser must go home. He then joins the game, as the cleat is featured in both action shots and cutaways.

“We really wanted to do something that was unique, that stood out, that took me back to when I was a young kid – trying to play late-night football, trying to play late-night baseball – get all the friends together, all the fellows and girls, and we’d play the game together. It was an awesome time, we did a really good job with the shoot, and I thought it turned out really well,” Wilson told The Drum.

He added: “One of my favorite parts of the commercial is in the beginning when the kids sneak up under the gate, where they have that look like ‘oh shoot, we’re here, we finally made it.’ It was like when you walk into the Super Bowl your second year and you’re like, ‘man, we’re here.’”

Some of the kids came from Wilson’s Passing Academy, while others were kids of friends of his or other people he and the crew knew. Wilson said the kids were “naturals” on camera. After a coaching session on which plays to run that would look best on camera, the children came to play and were eager to participate.

“We just had fun out there playing – high energy, high action, making it feel like a real Sunday night game. That’s what it felt like, but with eight- to 14-year-olds,” Wilson said.

He noted that the kids even wrote some of the dialogue, including the young girl who came up with the video’s title phrase. “We asked the kids, ‘what would you want to say?’ and one of the kids said ‘winner stays’.

“We wanted to keep it real, we wanted to keep it young, we wanted to keep it fresh. That’s what we were talking about with the creative team from West2East. That’s the kind of stuff we like to do, we like to do creative things where we keep it new school, but we also pay homage to the sport and pay homage to what we’re shooting,” added Wilson.

Wilson created West2East to not only help promote his own brand but also build a creative team to do production, photography, video event coverage and more in house. He noted that the company has been fortunate to work with global and regional brands like Nike, Amazon Alaska Airlines and Bose, and said that the team is in the process of doing TV shows and movies as well.

“We’re creative, we’re innovative…we want to be able to work with some of the best people in the world, and make it feel like you’ve never seen it before, but make it feel like you’re there in that experience. We want to have inspirational storytelling,” Wilson stated.

Wilson has his own line of shoes and clothing with Nike, which is why the brand trusted West2East to create and produce the video to Nike spec on a short timeline.

“I think they understand the kind of product we like to put on the table, in terms of not only the things we create but the things we produce and the type of team members we have,” he said.

West2East grew out of Wilson’s entrepreneurial spirit, which is an extension of his personal brand and his creativity both on and off the football field.

“I have fun with the creativity…I think people see me sometimes in a box because they see me playing quarterback and answering QB questions. People don’t really know me like Nike knows me. They really understand my creativity, and what we’re trying to do and how we’re trying to do it,” said Wilson.

He hopes people will enjoy the commercial and understand what West2East can create moving forward, because ‘winner stays’ isn’t just a youthful statement.

See the full spot and behind-the-scenes footage by clicking on the Creative Works box below.

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