NEW YORK — Israeli hip-hop violinist Miri Ben-Ari will make her debut tonight as the new face of Reebok.
The 27-year-old is starring in the activewear company’s “I Am What I Am” marketing campaign and, in a first for the brand, Reebok helped develop the video for her new single, “We Gonna Win.” The video and the ad will be unveiled at an invite-only event this evening at Cielo on West 12th Street in the Meatpacking District here.
In the video, Ben-Ari wears Reebok footwear and customized apparel, some of which is already sold at retail.
Ben-Ari said she is a good fit for Reebok’s multimillion-dollar campaign, which stresses individuality and has featured athletes and celebrities such as Allen Iverson, Lucy Liu and Christina Ricci. “I have always done my own thing and have not followed what I was supposed to do,” said the petite, classically trained musician, who once studied under Isaac Stern and left Israel seven years ago to break into the music scene here. “I try everything when it comes to music, and I am influenced by everyone from Bach to Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin and Biggie Smalls.”
Ben-Ari’s first solo album, “Hip-Hop Violinist,” hit stores last week, and showcases her classic roots and soulful style. Over the last few years, she has performed with a range of musicians, including Wynton Marsalis, Wyclef Jean and Jay-Z, and appeared on albums from Twista and Kanye West.
Her fashion style is also eclectic. “I don’t like to lock myself into one style,” said Ben-Ari, who has a wild mane of curly reddish hair and a penchant for miniskirts, boots and denim. “I love shopping all over New York, from Eighth Street stores to Barneys and Bloomingdale’s.”
Reebok, which has just been purchased by Adidas for $3.8 billion, has been at the forefront of working with musicians and artists, including Jay-Z and 50 Cent, but the deal with Ben-Ari marks a new development since it is the first time it has signed a female musician to this campaign, and is its first stab at developing a music video. As part of that process, Reebok collaborated with Ben-Ari’s label, Universal, to choose the video’s director and production team, in addition to providing the apparel and footwear she wears.
This story first appeared in the September 29, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Que Gaskins, Reebok’s vice president of Lifestyle and Entertainment Global Marketing, said, “We are constantly challenged with finding creative ways to break through and make a deeper and more emotional connection with consumers. This project is a way for us to be doing something totally different and unexpected.”
Gaskins said the company also is exploring developing signature footwear and apparel for Ben-Ari, similar to deals it has with male musicians such as Nelly.
“When she starts playing, Ben-Ari is inspirational and aspirational,” he said. “Working with her in the video is a great visual way for us to show people who we are.”