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Timberland's Gritty Film Thanks Communities for Making an Icon


ØPUS United teams up with director Nicholas Lam of Hound to thank communities who helped make the Timberland boot a cultural icon

Timberland's Gritty Film Thanks Communities for Making an Icon

This bold global campaign -- anchored by a :60 film that is gritty and raw, yet at the same time celebratory and uplifting -- was created for Timberland by culture and creative agency, ØPUS United. ØPUS partnered with the brand on strategy, concept development and production, tapping Nicholas Lam of Hound to direct.

The Build Forward campaign aims to do one simple yet powerful thing: To acknowledge and thank the communities around the world who helped make the Timberland boot a cultural icon, and set the stage to build forward, together.

The film opens with a glimpse at the origins of Timberland’s Original Yellow Boot -- built to keep people warm and dry -- and in one powerful and energising moment, the film transitions to celebrate the diverse communities around the world that adopted the boot and made it the global icon it is today. 

Shot in the neighbourhoods of New York City, London and Shanghai, the film showcases real people who share Timberland’s values of hard work and determination…real people who are building their communities, every day.  They include:

  • Nicolas Heller, aka New York Nico (Brooklyn): Documentarian and Film Director
  • Meyhem Lauren (Queens): NYC Rapper and Foodie
  • Majdouline El hichou (London): Anthropologist and Educator
  • Joseph Shields (London): Writer and Sustainability Advocate
  • Joan Chiang (Shanghai):  Outdoor Explorer and Community Leader

The film is narrated by rapper, entrepreneur and cultural icon, Westside Gunn, of Buffalo.  

Beyond serving as a humble thank you to the communities that helped make Timberland what it is today, the campaign is a call to action to people around the world to pull on their boots, to get shit done, to move the world forward.  

Director Nicolas Lam said: “Shooting across three continents/time zones/cities during a global pandemic required a herculean effort from the creative team, as there were so many (literal) moving parts. I remotely directed teams on the ground in Shanghai and London, but we felt it crucial that I travel to New York to oversee the main portion of the film, since that would establish overall tone, style and visual language for the whole piece. 

“Filming in New York spanned three days, focusing on the boroughs of Brooklyn, the Bronx and Queens – locations integral to 90’s hip-hop and by extension, Timberland’s origin story. Filming in London and Shanghai were one day each, with an aesthetic precedent set by the New York footage.”

“​​What was immediately apparent to me on this project was just how diverse the teams were behind the concept and behind the camera. The incredible cultural and ethnic representation within the agency and production teams reflected the communities we were capturing and are what gave this film its life, its voice, and I think every project that ever gets made should strive for this.”

“My favourite thing about this campaign is that Nicholas and Timberland weren’t afraid of weather. In the commercial space there can be pressure to make a grey day sunny. There’s something more honest about embracing the moods of each place and character for what was truly there. And having lived in some of these cities, authenticity is king.” - Asa Fox, colourist

“After working closely with creative director, Rick Cordos, and seeing the poignant script he wrote for this piece, I knew this project called for a director that was immensely passionate about the filmmaking process; someone who could guide their vision through collaboration with multiple teams across three continents in order to create a meaningful and cohesive film. My first call was to Hound and Nicholas Lam, knowing they would be the perfect team to bring this concept to life. I'm beyond proud of what we accomplished and what this work means.” - Jenn Mickelson, agency producer

“What drew me to the project the most was the freedom to explore a different side of New York that we don’t usually get to see, and as a big fan of New York 90’s hip-hop, I felt especially connected to the piece. Knowing what we shot here would set the tempo for London and Shanghai, felt the added responsibility of capturing New York at its most authentic, visceral and raw form.” - Parris Stewart, cinematographer

“Timberland was an interesting project to work on, because the shoots were conducted in several iconic locations. I actually used ambisonic recordings of the sounds of NY city and Shanghai to earth the sound design as much as possible. I even blended rail cars from NY subways together to give that subtle sense of familiarity. Music reigned supreme in this piece, but it was great to be able to embed some tangible source audio into the film - even if only I notice! These things are ultimately experienced as the sum of their parts - it's important to remember that balance, especially with such a kinetic edit. Craft at every corner!”  - Denis Kilty, sound designer 

As a brand, Timberland has been around since the 70’s, but it wasn’t until the influence of 90’s hip-hop that it became an icon, starting in NYC, reaching upstate and across New York, to the Northeast US and Canada, and moving across the globe. The iconic wheat 'Timbs' are beloved by so many, and they became a symbol of determination - the hustlers’ uniform - then and now. 

“When we began thinking about the campaign for the original Yellow Boot, we knew we had to start with the communities who built Timberland’s brand. We talked to people. We listened to the way they talked about their Timbs. It was real, it was special, it was was a love story. And we knew we had to acknowledge this in a meaningful way; to respect the way the community took this incredible boot innovation, and literally revolutionised culture with it. It’s a celebration of the real neighbourhoods, starting with New York, who rocked Timbs with style and confidence, and it’s about the role the boot plays in the lives of people who are moving the world forward.”

“For our narrator, we knew we needed a legend in the hip hop community. Rap has no shortage of distinct, beautiful voices, but we felt there was no better choice than music and style star Westside Gunn. Born and raised in the harsh, impoverished part of Buffalo where drugs and violence were the daily norm and resources to overcome such conditions were absent, he managed to start a clothing brand, Griselda by Fashion Rebels (GXFR) which eventually funded the highly successful rap endeavours of himself, his brother Conway the Machine, and cousin Benny the Butcher, known as the Griselda crew. Today, he is a source of inspiration and influence for people like Ye and Virgil Abloh, and his crew is given credit for bringing that gritty New York sound back to rap. He is one of the most iconic figures in culture today with co-signs from anyone whose voice matters.” - Øpus United (creative agency)

The film and overall campaign launched in mid-November and can be found in a number of digital and physical channels. The film’s arresting visuals made for beautiful still imagery that is showcased in social, digital, out-of-home and print media. The film’s call-to-action for audiences to ‘tell your story’ is echoed in every media touch point. 


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Categories: Shoes, Clothing and Fashion

HOUND, Mon, 22 Nov 2021 08:59:35 GMT