Jess Kohl Directs Adidas Campaign Aimed at Removing the Pressure of Sports from Young Players and Athletes

Jess Kohl Directs Adidas Campaign Aimed at Removing the Pressure of Sports from Young Players and Athletes

Feb. 28, 2024

What if we played like pressure didn’t exist? That’s the question at the heart of a new adidas campaign directed by award-winning director Jess Kohl. Kohl directs young athletes in a series of three online social films with the tagline #YouGotThis. The campaign centres around seeing what can happen when we remove the pressure and make games that are solely about having fun. Each film shows young players and athletes experiencing sport in a new way by surprising them with twists on traditional sporting environments.

Basketball hero Anthony Edwards stars in "The 20 Foot Hoop", shot on location in Minneapolis, USA. Edwards strikes up an easy rapport with a young team of American basketball players who give him an insight into the pressures they face on the basketball court. The tension eases when Edwards scores in a 20 foot hoop.  

"The Football Triangle" foregrounds three girl’s football teams headed up by an inspiring woman coach, Catarina Macario, with the help and motivation of guest star footballers Mia Fishel, Gabriel Martinelli and Andreas Pereira. Filmed on location at Wasps FC Rugby club, "The Football Triangle" features three girls teams; the Kinetic FC under 16’s, Barking Abbey under 16’s and Tottenham under 16’s. 

In the football-focussed film "The Football Triangle", the footballers are shown in their dressing room pre-match, discussing their nerves about playing in front of a crowd, and how the pressure gets to them. "Football like you’ve never experienced before: three goals three teams" is at the heart of the campaign, played out on a very unconventional pitch with triangular markings.  5V5V5: three teams of 5 compete against each other on the unusual pitch, designed by The Midnight Club creatives Luke & Vanya. "The Football Triangle" is part of a series of Adidas films directed by Jess Kohl, and a Tennis-focussed campaign will launch in March.  

Kohl’s films focussed on Basketball and Football can be viewed on YouTube now, and the third and final film in the series "The Giant Court", centres around Tennis, with a release date of 4th March.

Director and photographer Jess Kohl was born in London and graduated from Central Saint Martins and then completed a Masters in cinematography. Her films and photography have been featured in many renowned publications including Dazed, Another Magazine, British Journal of Photography, Nowness, The Face, Vogue and  i-D, and she has directed commercial work for global brands including Google, Carhartt and WhatsApp, and made a name for herself as a unique director of inspirational campaigns for sports-centred brands including Nike, Speedo and On Running.

Director Jess Kohl explained:

"The overall creative concept was to reimagine the spaces that people play sports on, with the intention of taking the pressure off and creating environments where players can just have fun, and remember why they loved the sport in the first place. I was excited about the brief because it was an opportunity to create graphic, surreal spaces in different cities around the world - a triangular football pitch in London, double-size tennis court in Japan, and 20ft high basketball hoop in Minneapolis. We then invited pro players to join local kids on the courts and captured the organized chaos that ensued."

 

Jess Kohl’s filmmaking and visual storytelling often focuses on underrepresented voices, which she seeks to amplify through nuanced and poignant storytelling via a distinctive cinematic lens. Her interest in documenting and celebrating the fringes of society has seen her turn her creative lens towards marginalised groups around the world including Punks in the Philippines and transgender communities in Central India.  Kohl’s award-winning short films include A Mouthful of Petrol, a coming-of-age documentary following a father and son who share a passion for banger racing, which won the Golden Frog for Best Documentary Short at Camerimage and premiered at IDFA. In 2019, she won Best Director and Best Documentary at the Milan Fashion Film Festival for Nirvana, a short film about the Koovagam Festival, the largest gathering of transgender women in Asia. Kohl’s films Disciples and Anarchy in the Philippines have also been nominated for numerous awards, including the Grierson.

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