With 28 Olympic medals under his belt, he’s been dubbed the greatest swimmer of all time. And now, Michael Phelps is breaking new records in Under Armour’s latest content campaign – a video that will resonate with you long after the Olympic cauldron goes out.
It’s not everyday you watch a campaign that’s as beautiful as it is uncomfortable. But that’s exactly the reason that American fitness brand Under Armour’s latest campaign took home the 2016 Cannes Lions Grand Prix for film craft.
And now, the content campaign has earned its place as the 2nd most shared Olympic content campaign of 2016 and one of the most shared Olympic campaigns in history.
Take a look for yourself…
Set against the backdrop of the brand’s new ‘Rule Yourself’ campaign, the video serves as a moving tribute to the gruelling grind behind the most decorated Olympian of all time.
Frame by frame we follow the life of Phelps as he swims, trains, eats and sleeps – it’s an eye-opening window into the life of one of the world’s most elite athletes. But the success of this campaign comes down to more than that.
The clip itself has all the elements of a creative masterpiece, evoking a raw, dark and almost-disquieting atmosphere. With The Kills’ track, ‘The Last Goodbye,’ smouldering softly in the background, viewers are compellingly drawn in to the campaign through Phelps’ story: “It’s what you do in the dark, that puts you in the light”.
It is precisely this emotional chord that has played a major role in the campaign’s success, particularly evoking popularity its target audience – millennial men aged 18 to 34.
According to Unruly, the clip has been able to elicit a sense of inspiration amongst 47 per cent of viewers, and 68 per cent of millennial men. Moreover, millennials also reported feeling happy and surprised by the content – key emotions needed to engage younger viewers according to Devra Prywes, VP, marketing and insight at Unruly.
“Something we’ve learned from all of the ads we tested if we look at different demographics and the emotions that are most resonant to them, for millennials – especially male millennials – inspiration is one of the top emotions,” Prywes said recently. “If that is present at all in an ad they tend to experience it.”
Prywes also noted brand trust as another key driver of the campaigns success. “Especially with younger viewers, over three-quarters will lose trust in a brand if an ad feels fake,” she stated.
“Under Armour’s recent campaigns are all consistently authentic. They’re doing a really nice job of drawing this out and creating new content that all work together in their content stack.”
Going for gold
The agency that earned kudos for the campaign – and earned the Cannes Lions Grand Prix in the film craft category in the process – was Droga5.
Agency co-head of strategy, Harry Roman, and chief creative officer, Ted Royer, had this to say about the campaign:
I think people connect with this film because it paints hard work and sacrifice with beautiful strokes, but does so in a way that is raw and real about what it takes to win.
I would like to think that this film and the stirring lyrics ‘It’s The Last Goodbye,’ are playing in the back of people’s minds when they see him smiling on the podium. We probably won’t see another athlete like Michael Phelps for a very long time. It has to be one of the most special pieces of work our agency has done.
Combining authentic storytelling, engaging design and data-driven strategy Under Armour have ensured this is one content campaign you’re unlikely to forget any time soon.