"They really can't believe that my big ass is out here, doing it," says 300-pound Martinus Evans in the spot below, part of TBWA\Neboko Amsterdam's new global running campaign for Adidas. Evans defied his doctor's negative body comments, trained hard, and now competes in marathons.
The campaign profiles unlikely runners who define "fast" in different, highly personal ways. Evans, for example is "faster than people expect."
Next, we meet Ellie Lacey. Once given 48 hours to live, Lacey survived an emergency liver transplant and went on to become a world champion. She admits she's "faster than I ever expected."
Both Lacey and Evans appear in an anthem spot, joined by current men's 200-meter world champion Noah Lyles, as well as Katharine Switzer, who in 1967 overcame rampant sexism to become the first woman to run the Boston Marathon:
"Fast. It's not just about speed," the narrator says. "Fast is personal. And no matter how fast you are today, tomorrow you can be faster."
That message clearly resonates, with the anthem film notching nearly 10 million views on YouTube since its Feb. 21 posting, and Lacey and Evans' installments tallying nearly 2 million and 180,000, respectively.
"People run for all sorts of reasons, but research shows the concept of 'transformation' and 'self-betterment' is what drives an overwhelming majority of runners," TBWA\Neboko business director Tomas Pruijs tells Muse. "We used that insight to find runners whose stories embodied this concept. Both Martinus and Ellie represent why 'fast' is more than just speed, and why running has the power to change lives."
Similar themes emerge in Nike's recent film about inspirational Hackney Wick FC coach Bonny Kasanga and Standard Chartered's tribute to powerhouse Liverpool FC (with regular Liverpudlians the real stars). Even Adidas' smart insole that helps wearers improve their EA FIFA Mobile teams while building IRL soccer skills covers comparable ground.
In each case, to varying degrees, sports elevates the human condition—a hopeful message of personal empowerment that takes on special significance in these increasingly troubled times.
"The insight is universal, so it's easily understood and relatable to everyone," Pruuijs says of the Adidas push, dubbed "Faster Than____." The big takeaway "is that fast is a constant state of change," he says. "All you need to do is to get out there and run."
Working with Anonymous Content director Daniel Kaufman, "we had this idea to use real 'archival' footage from both Ellie and Martinus," Pruijs says. "We ran phone interviews with both—that's the voiceover you hear on the films. These are personal stories of transformation, so we wanted the viewers to feel that as well. The world of sport is already so inspiring in its realness, there isn't a need to add anything more to it."
Client: adidas Running
Production: Anonymous Content
Director: Daniel Kaufman