Adobe Shows Why Sports Stars Should Never Sign Big Contracts With an Actual Pen

An argument for digital signatures

Don't lose business because you're still using tedious pen-and-paper legal instruments, says a new ad from Adobe.

In the minute-long spot, sports announcers and fans go crazy amid news that a fictional basketball star, Anton Miller, is going to sign a "billion-dollar" deal with a make-believe basketball team, the Cincinnati Sabres (not to be confused with a real American Hockey League team, the Cincinnati Swords).

But as the celebrity player sits in a roundtable conference room with executives from the franchise, and his own entourage, it becomes clear things aren't going that well. The paperwork barely inches its way around the table, as an obnoxious lawyer points out to stakeholders the dozen or so places each will have to sign.

Eventually—spoiler alert—Miller receives a message from a competing team, San Jose, inviting him to sign another offer, right there on his smartphone, with a single flick of his finger, all thanks to to Adobe's quick-and-easy e-signature technology. He obliges, and exits the room, free to get on with his life.

Overall, the commercial, by Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, makes for a fun bit of hyperbole that, while ridiculous in the specifics, clearly makes its point: Don't alienate customers by wasting their time. It joins previous ads demonstrating the potential costs of a careless approach to business, like the dark comedy bit "Snake Bite," in which poor mobile design has severe consequences for a pair of hikers.

For now, the new ad is just running online, but will air on TNT during this fall's launch of the 2016 NBA season—part of a clever strategy that hopes to leverage buzz around real-world athlete signings, like Oklahoma City Thunder alum Kevin Durant's first game playing for the Golden State Warriors on Oct. 25, where six-time NBA All-Star Pau Gasol will also be debuting for the San Antonio Spurs.

In another online component of the campaign, Adobe is taking over the website of business magazine Fast Company on Monday and Tuesday, temporarily changing its name to Slow Company for visitors, with a gag cover design that includes fake teasers like "Messenger Pigeons: Are they right for your business?"

Then again, who knows. With the right technology, they could be.


Client: Adobe

Chief Marketing Officer: Ann Lewnes

VP, Experience Marketing Group: Alex Amado

Executive Creative Director: Steve Gustafson

Sr. Creative Director for Video: Dan Cowles

Director of Advertising and Production: Joel Giullian

Title of Creative Work: "Billion Dollar Player"

Live Date: 9/12/16

Agency: Goodby, Silverstein & Partners

Co-Chairmen: Rich Silverstein and Jeff Goodby

Chief Creative Officer: Margaret Johnson

Creative Director: Will Elliott

Creative Director: Patrick Knowlton

Creative Director: Roger Baran

Creative Director: Sam Luchini

Art Director: Jasper Yu

Art Director: Stefan Copiz

Copywriter: Alex Maleski

Director of Content Production: Tod Puckett

Senior Producer: Benton Roman

Production Coordinator: Rachel Newman

Managing Partner: Brian McPherson

Account Director: Theo Abel

Account Manager: Chelsea Bruzzone

Assistant Account Manager: Zack Piánko

Director of Brand Strategy: Bonnie Wan

Brand Strategist: Etienne Ma

Brand Strategist: Andrew Mak

Director of Communication Strategy: Christine Chen

Communication Strategy Deputy Director: Dong Kim

Senior Communication Strategist: Caitlin Neelon

Communication Strategist: Natalie Williamson

Junior Communication Strategist: Chloe Bosmeny

Business Affairs Manager: Heidi Killeen

Director of Music: Todd Porter

Reset (Production)

Director: Adam Hashemi

Managing Director: Dave Morrison

Executive Producer: Jeff McDougall

Bidding Producer: Jenn Ingalls

Head of Production: JP Columbo

Producer: Michelle Currinder

Rock Paper Scissors (Editor)

Producer: Charlyn Derrick

Editor: Olivier Bugge Coutte

Barking Owl (Music)

Sound Designer – Michael Anastasi

Mixer – Patrick Navarre

Music – Barking Owl

Creative Director – Kelly Bayett

The Mill (Post FX)

Senior Producer: Will Unterreiner

2D Lead: Tara Demarco

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@GabrielBeltrone Gabriel Beltrone is a frequent contributor to Adweek.