WhatsApp is launching its first ever film later this month with NBA star Giannis Antetokounmpo featuring front-and-center.
The film – titled Naija Odyssey – runs for 12-minutes and according to the official description Antetokounmpo “tells his origin story of many origins as he reconciles his roots, birthplace and sense of belonging between cross-cultural worlds.”
The Milwaukee Bucks star, former MVP, 2021 NBA Champion and Finals MVP was born in Greece to Nigerian parents. The content is a part of the endorsement deal he signed with WhatsApp in February.
The film is ultimately a narrative-driven piece of branded content telling a story that is not well-known, even in the NBA community.
“‘Naija Odyssey’ is a story that reinforces how WhatsApp helps us embrace our multifaceted lives,” said Vivian Odior, WhatsApp’s global head of marketing. “In navigating relationships, identity, and even adversity, WhatsApp is there — enabling you to embrace all sides of you by connecting you to those who matter most.”
The story is narrated by both Antetokounmpo, and his mother Veronica, and was edited by the winner of the 2021 Oscar for film editing for Sound of Metal, Mikkel E.G. Nielsen. Nono Ayuso and Rodrigo Inada are listed as the filmmakers of the project and it was produced by New York-based creative agency Translation. The story is loosely based on the famous Greek poem The Odyssey, from a classical standpoint, and from a business standpoint, WhatsApp has been rocked with accusations that it has helped spread disinformation, primarily during the pandemic and through election processes. The short piece works to counter that position.
WhatsApp currently boasts 2 billion monthly users, with the film set to release on the company’s YouTube channels, as well as on Amazon Prime Video and YouTube on September 21st.