BOSTON—Puma advertising executive Paul Dewitt delivered a halfhearted, ill-conceived presentation Monday during which he pitched a number of 30-second TV commercials depicting Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt running away or toward various places and things.
The new campaign, which Dewitt barely mustered the energy to title "Usain Bolt: Fast Guy," is scheduled to debut next March.
"I don't know, maybe in one [commercial] he's running away from a car or a train, or toward a car or a train," Dewitt said to members of Puma's executive board, including company president Mark Parker. "If it's a train it should probably be one of those silver, pointy-looking ones that look like they go super fast."
"Now, if it's a car, I guess we should do a Corvette or a Porsche or something fast like that," Dewitt added. "Pretty much any motor vehicle that conveys Bolt is abnormally fast would work."
According to those who attended the presentation, Dewitt spent an estimated five minutes listing more than 200 living and nonliving things that Usain Bolt could run up, down, toward, against, or around "in one of those fast circles that are made of smoke," including bullets, airplanes, camera flashes, Internet search engines, really fast dogs, really fast cats, even faster dogs, other runners, the earth, the solar system, a comet, and the universe.
Any celestial body, Dewitt noted, would adequately demonstrate Bolt's ability to move time either forward or backward depending upon whether he was running clockwise or counterclockwise.
"What if he runs against a cheetah or a jaguar or maybe, like, a gazelle?" Dewitt said while standing in front of a PowerPoint slide labeled "Animals." "Maybe we do something funny where it's the Olympics and Usain looks over and sees all these fast animals in the lanes next to him. Anyway, the race starts, Usain beats the animals, and while they are on the victory podium he looks over to the cheetah like 'uh-oh' when the cheetah growls at him."
"Oh," Dewitt continued. "He could eat his lunch really fast or do his laundry fast? That could be two separate commercials."
Overall, the presentation lasted 10 minutes and featured at least 50 incredibly lazy commercial ideas, including one in which several astronauts look out the window of their space shuttle only to see Bolt running past them in space. According to sources, the only consistent theme among each of the 30-second spots was that Bolt should be portrayed as very fast.
In fact, Dewitt reportedly said the words "fast" and "really fast" more than 80 times during his talk.
"In some of these commercials, there's got to be steam coming out of his feet, right?" Dewitt said near the end of his pitch. "Or maybe he leaves tire marks on the road with tiny flames coming out of them. Fire equals fast, so—"
"Now, I don't really have a specific idea for these next two," he continued. "They're sort of just concepts we can play with. But I'm going to throw the speed of sound and the speed of light out there. Also, maybe something with exploding stopwatches?"
Executives told reporters that it appeared as though most of Dewitt's ideas were made up on the spot, as evidenced by the fact that, when Puma marketing head Sarah Jeffery suggested they take advantage of the connection between Bolt's last name and lightning, Dewitt appeared to be caught off guard by the obvious correlation, clumsily responding, "Oh, I was just about to get into those." Dewitt later went on to pitch another spot where the Olympic gold medalist runs against himself—a commercial that Dewitt called a "dual thing showing that, in life, your biggest rival is yourself. People love that."
"Maybe at the end of all these commercials, a Puma logo appears and it thumps like a heart to convey intensity," Dewitt said. "So, okay, I'm done now. Any questions?"
When reached for comment, Bolt really seemed to like the idea about him playing a much older version of himself.