On Sportswear Transforms Triathletes Into Viking Warriors

An epic journey into Norse mythology

Champion triathletes morph into godlike superheroes in "Tri-Kings," an animated short from On, the Swiss sportswear brand. The company is seeking to broaden the sport's appeal—and boost its own image—ahead of next year's Paris Olympics.

The film features top Norwegian competitors Gustav Iden and Kristian Blummenfeltstand. As they stand amid majestic Nordic fjords, they transform—in the style of '90s cult fave Cool World—into anime characters "Gustav the Great" and "Kristian the Unstoppable." 

Can epic adventures be far behind? (Spoiler: Of course not.)

"Our primary aim was to craft a narrative that boldly defies the traditional confines of sports content, redefining the perception of triathlon through an authentic and fun perspective," says Gessica Giulini, On's sports marketing lead.

The effort is led by Simon Brotherson, creative director of Brother & Son, and Yibi Hu, who directed the film via Future Power Station. Oscar-winning Passion Pictures handled production.

On helped the creative team understand the punishing challenges that triathletes face as they battle the elements, navigate rocky terrain and dive into the water.

"After noting these various hazards, much like how mythology has been used to explain aspects of the natural world, we used various gods and creatures from the Norse myths to metaphorically act as obstacles," says Hu. 

"This included Rán, goddess of the sea, attempting to drown Kristian and Gustav. The sun and moon gods Sol and Mani representing the race against time. And the living forest tries to grab the athletes just like unruly race spectators!."

Cloud giants, sea serpents and the god Heimdall, with his horn acting as the claxon for the race, also appear.

"Once we started adding characters, we found it hard to stop!" says Hu.

The film employs VFX and motion-capture technology.

"As a studio, we love the opportunity to use a piece of tech, and we realized combining 3D models with 2D moving parts created a unique and somewhat ethereal effect which helped the gods move and act differently to the 2D heroes," says Hu. 

And it draws inspiration from the '90s Batman and Robin animated series, too.

"Tri-Kings" is being distributed across various digital channels, and has received additional exposure across athlete channels and specialized triathlon media.

On also organized an event in Nice to screen the film and spotlight the athletes, which brought together members of the triathlon community and running enthusiasts in celebration of the IronMan Nice.


Client: On AG
Producer: Gessica Giulini, On
Executive Producer: Feliciano Robayna, On

Creative Director: Simon Brotherson, Brother&Son
Producer: Olivia Hirshberg 

Production Company: Passion Pictures 
Animation Director, Art Director, co-writer: Future Power Station
Producer: Louise Simpson 
Executive Producer: Kitty Turley
Head of Production: Juliette Stern

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