Cannes Lions

Untethered

ON RUNNING, Zurich / ON / 2022

Awards:

2 Shortlisted Cannes Lions
Film
1 of 0 items

Overview

Entries

Credits

Overview

Background

For On, the Olympic activation strategy was to utilise the Paralympian duo, enabling them to skirt blackout media clauses. With a history of long-form storytelling, the film needed to tell Brown and Avery’s unique story in a documentary form that appealed to unpaid media sources, while balancing branding needs. Postponed throughout the pandemic, a shoot window opened just weeks before Tokyo 2020.

Idea

The film was part documentary, part ‘This is Your Life’. Within the short window of filming, Brown and Avery were brought to New York shortly before Tokyo 2020, under the guise of a trial run for a marathon. The film follows them through the boroughs, loosely mirroring the route of the race. David had no idea he’d be reconnecting with the people that inspired his life: his mom, first track coach, and pop culture heroes J.B. Smoove (of Curb Your Enthusiasm) and The Roots’ Black Thought. These heroes harked from the classic New York club era of jazz and blues, which matched the feel of classic NYC movies like Manhattan and Coffee and Cigarettes – films that depict city locations as characters in their own right. Our jazz-scored film, shot in monochrome, paid homage to these: also giving a sense of the visual restriction of a blind athlete.

Strategy

For On, their 2020 Olympic activation strategy was to utilise the Paralympian duo, enabling them to skirt blackout media clauses that applied to Olympians. With a history of long-form storytelling, the film needed to tell Brown and Avery’s unique story in a documentary form that appealed to unpaid media sources, while balancing branding needs. The Guardian was a key media partner in this, embedding a reporter in the production. Postponed throughout the pandemic, a shoot window opened just weeks before Tokyo 2020. The quick production turnaround enabled the film to be as newsworthy as possible when it was possible to witness the last minute coaching decision to break up the partnership.

Execution

Given the film’s ‘This is Your Life’ setup, it had to dance between being beautifully constructed but having room for spontaneity. So, when meeting his mom and former coach – whom he hadn’t seen in a decade – it had to be in one take, as David had no idea the two were in New York. The interviewees needed to feel like characters in the neighbourhoods the duo ran past. For instance, David’s mom had never been to NYC, so she was filmed as a tourist, passing by in a Central Park buggy, then telling her backstory on a nearby bench. For J.B. Smoove and Black Thought, locations were chosen where they were most comfortable and that reflected their personalities, to offer honest and untethered insights. And lighting conditions enhanced this: Staten Island at early morning, Coney Island at dusk, Harlem at night.

Outcome

The film launched on On Running’s website – amplified by an exclusive interview with the Guardian and a PR strategy hitting ESPN, Forbes & more – resulting in a total online readership of 941 million.

Similar Campaigns

2 items

Black Ice

ON RUNNING, Zurich

Black Ice

2022, ON

(opens in a new tab)