It was some time last fall when I’d decided to reach out to Sung Kang, a rising actor in Hollywood, most famous for his role as Han in Fast and Furious Tokyo Drift and in Better Luck Tomorrow. It was his iconoclastic approach to portraying Asian Americans as creative, funny and desirable that led me to take a big interest in him. So when he replied to me saying that he’d seen the shoes and loved to get involved with Jump at any level, I knew we were onto something great.
We flew out to LA and had wanted to treat him to lunch at some swanky Japanese restaurant but it ended up him inviting us to his own restaurant, Saketini, in Brentwood. It was pretty immediate that we knew we were speaking with the right person to represent the brand. We shared with him our history: our beginnings in Asia, how the brand has since traveled to over 30 countries and our vision for the US market. We discussed our brand philosophy driven by family values and how we wanted to transcend the realm of mere shoes but to extend the brand to other aspects of culture and global consciousness. We left lunch feeling not only extremely satisfied and full (his food, by the way, is exquisite) but also feeling great about the partnership. It felt like he had already become one of the Jump family. We had some great ideas on the table and from there we knew it would only burgeon into something bigger.
Man, did he feed us. We must’ve gone through like 10 courses.
After our return to New York, we began brainstorming. I soon discovered that contrary to what you might think of most actors, Sung could do a lot more than just act. I suppose the fact that he owned a restaurant and built his own original menu was already a testament to that. He’d become our Hollywood ambassador, wearing our shoes in all his films including Fast and Furious 4 directed by Justin Lin, the prequel to Tokyo Drift that tells the story of Han and Dom, played by Vin Diesel also starring Paul Walker and Jordana Brewster. In Berlin, he introduced the Wachowski Brothers (Matrix) and Rain to Jump while shooting Ninja Assassin.
But one of the things that impressed me the most was that he owned a high degree of innate creativity and self-awareness of his talents and was able to tap into it to help us formulate some really great ideas; things we would’ve never come up with!
Internally, we had developed a dossier to help us categorize our wide breadth of product. We decided that in order to make this palatable and understandable both internally and for our customers, we should categorize it. We decided that the best way to do it was to create a character or a persona for each category, then write a story about each one. Here’s what one very creative weekend yielded us.
We had a great time writing these. We wanted to make each of these characters cool but hilarious at the same time. Who would you identify with?
With these characters and Sung’s talents as an actor, we now had the tools to create some really cool stuff. But what? We began throwing ideas back and forth and came up with two really good ones. The first would be a series of short films produced by Arowana Films starring Sung playing each of the characters we’d come up with. The next would involve traveling half way around the world to Taiwan to work with my old friend Jeff Wang, owner of the creative agency, Blanq to create a collection pieces that would serve as our premier brand campaign. The stage was set for a host of exciting developments. Stay tuned.