Tokyo Olympics' Delay Is One More Hurdle for Athletes in This Stirring Adidas Ad

Iris profiles competitors preparing for 2021

After months on the sidelines due to Covid-19 safety restrictions, Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer recently returned, along with various pro sports across Europe and Asia. The NHL and NBA will start up again soon, with the NFL scheduled to kick off as usual in September.

The Tokyo Olympics, however, remain on hold, moved from their original start date last Friday to July 24, 2021.

After years of sacrifice and training, Adidas athletes primed to compete in the 2020 Summer Games naturally experienced deep disappointment. But as we learn in this two-minute film from Iris New York, they're taking the setback in stride, viewing the Covid delay as just one more hurdle to clear:

What's One More - READY FOR SPORT | adidas

These folks mastered the concept of "one more" long before the pandemic. Pushing themselves to be among the world's finest, they've endured, on countless occasions, one more bone-crunching round in the ring, one more lap in the pool when their arms feel like breaking, and one more sprint around the track when their legs and lungs cried out for rest.

Though initially heartbreaking, the 12 months of a dream deferred becomes one more sacrifice on the long road to Olympic glory.

"When you've spent a lifetime waiting for this moment," British boxer Caroline Dubois explains in the spot, "what's one more year?"

Other athletes concur:

• "The willingness to go just one more, that's what separates the good for the great"
• "One more is just what we do."
• "This is just one more, one more."
• "That's what makes us, us."

The energetic documentary style and rapid cuts from Station Films director Sarah Chatfield drive home the message with considerable power under Adidas' "Ready for Sport" banner. By the end, you just want to cheer these athletes on.

Below, Iris creative director Lexi Corn tells us about the project.

Muse: This feels like a natural evolution of "Ready for Sport." Was that the plan?

Lexi Corn: We, like many other teams across our industry, were in the midst of creating a completely different film when Covid-19 escalated and the Olympics were postponed. The film we initially shot was developed to celebrate our athletes, inspire a sense of unity and promote the Adidas Tokyo Collection. Just like the athletes, we had to pivot the narrative when postponement was announced.

The "Just One More" angle feels very apt. How did that develop?  

We started by thinking about the concept of one more year—what does it equate to, how valuable is 365 days? Because for many of us, one year is a flash in the pan in the grand scheme of life—just ask a new parent. But time really is relative. So if that one-year delay comes when you're within inches of a dream fulfilled—like competing on the biggest stage in sport—that "brief" amount of time can feel like an eternity. But if there's one thing we know to be true about Olympic athletes, it's that they are uniquely equipped to mentally manage "one more," because it's how they got to where they are in the first place. They are among the best in the world because they always upped the ante—they always found a way to fight through every killer training session, every mental roadblock to do one more rep, one more drill, one more run.

How'd you make the spot?

We interviewed each athlete to get their story and asked them to record their answers using a mobile app. Visually, the project posed an interesting challenge, in that we really didn't know what the athletes would say when we spoke with them. But timings being what they were, we had to have content at the ready so we could begin the edit process almost immediately. So, basically, we had to collect enough content and be prepared for anything.

While we had some footage shot for our original concept that could be repurposed for this new narrative, many hours were spent scrubbing the athletes' social feeds, hunting through Adidas footage archives and even asking the athletes to record some content on their phones. In the end, we had about five hours of audio and almost 300 stills and pieces of motion content. We culled down to the 29 lines of voiceover and 21 pieces of content that you see in our final two-minute film.

Even though the Olympics were postponed, the spot still hypes the Tokyo Collection?

Yes. The collection offers only one colorway, a bold Signal Pink, which was developed by Adidas in honor of the city of Tokyo and its newly created running tracks and street culture.

Who exactly is the target audience?

We're actually talking to all sports fans, no matter gender or age. The Olympics capture a lot of people's attention, and the pandemic has touched every corner of the globe.

Does the spot speak to the broader pandemic experience?

It's really a story of hope and resilience in the face of despair, with the athletes coming together as a single voice to inspire us all to do "one more" and be "Ready for Sport" again. I think that optimism and positivity is something the world really could use right now.

These athletes appear in the spot:
Caroline Dubois* (Great Britain) – Boxing
Miho Nonaka (Japan) - Boulderer
Shaunae Miller-Uibo (Bahamas) – Track & Field
Maicel Uibo (Estonia) – Decathlon
McKenzie Coan (USA) – Paralympic Swimming
Katie Ledecky (USA) – Swimming
Shoko Ohta (Japan) – Paralympic Tae Kwon Do
Stefanos Tsitsipas (Greece) – Tennis

*All of the athletes were officially heading to the Olympics, except for Dubois. The Covid-19 quarantine became official the day she was set for a match that would have qualified her to compete in Tokyo.  

CREDITS

Brand - Adidas
Agency – Iris New York
Production Company – Station Films and Beast
Director - Sarah Chatfield
Executive Creative Director - Simon Candy
Creative Director - Lexi Corn
Managing Partner – Simon Yoxall
Group Account Director – Greg Markant
Agency Producers - Chris Buda

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David Gianatasio
David Gianatasio is senior editor at Clio Awards.

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