Entertainment > Sports


NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, Washington D.C. / NIKE / 2018


Gold Cannes Lions
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Case Film





Traveling to Ethiopia, Eritrea and Kenya, “Breaking2” chronicles three elite runners who are training tirelessly to shatter one of the biggest barriers in human endurance — the 2-hour marathon. Through the lens of the Breaking2 endeavor, we not only created an understanding of the depth of innovation behind this attempt, but also brought to life less quantifiable components — the power of the heart and the mind.

With breathtaking cinematography backed by a culturally charged musical score, viewers quickly found themselves rooting for each runner as their unique stories and personalities came to life. Despite the story’s heartbreaking outcome of barely missing the 2-hour mark, “Breaking2” was nonetheless a win — inspiring, poignant and captivating. It illustrated that there’s more to triumph and glory than just winning; it’s about the journey it takes to get there — a universal message that reaches far beyond the world of sports.


Bridging the Breaking2 race in May 2017 to the documentary premiere in September, we drove awareness through short-form social strytelling — teasing out the athletes, the science and the innovation that brought the entire journey to life.

On September 20, the film premiered commercial-free on our cable network at 8pm EST. The film was made available the next day on 10 VOD platforms, including on YouTube in 34 languages. It was broadcast an additional 33 times across our network, and on FS1. To drive awareness between the time of the marathon and the premiere, we conducted a robust tune-in campaign — priming entertainment, consumer and sports media to build momentum before “Breaking2” premiered.

With a consumer-first and mixed media distribution approach, we optimized engagement among audiences everywhere by leveraging traditional linear channels, digital, and VOD channel. We are still garnering 40K+ views a week on YouTube with no active marketing.


“Breaking2” was a resounding success. The documentary reached of 231MM+ across all platforms, and garnered 4MM+ mixed-media documentary views. Broadcast in 67 countries and in 34 languages available with closed captioning on YouTube, Breaking2 met consumers where they were with access on 10 VOD/EST platforms and on Twitter and Facebook.

The film premiered commercial-free with 34 encores, and received extensive social promotion which — driving viewership and promotion garnering 875K impressions. Social sentiment was overwhelmly positive, with more than half the tweets during the premiere broadcast expressing “love” of the documentary.

The campaign created buzz and momentum outside of the sports pages with 43 pieces of coverage in outlets including Variety, Bloomberg and NPR (among others) — reaching a total of 963M+ online readers, and securing 761K estimated views and 8.52K social shares.


How do you stop the world to engage in the pursuit of breaking the 2-hour marathon — one of the biggest moments in running? “Breaking2” did just that, and our sports film documentary told the remarkable journey of that challenge.

With “Breaking2,” we were able to create a sports film that lived at the intersection of sport and science. Both running fans and non-running fans alike found themselves personally connected and drawn to the unique and empowering stories of three remarkable heroes as they tested the limits of human potential on the Autodromo Nazionale Monza complex’s fixed 2.4-km loop.


Leveraging a collaborative, creative storytelling approach, we captured the power of human potential through the lens of the 2-hour marathon barrier. By traveling to the runners’ home countries, meeting their families and participating in their training runs, we created a storyline so pure, it was impossible not to care about what came next.

The story took viewers deep into athletic innovation centers across the U.S. to grant a better understanding of the scientific insights and technology needed to tackle this extraordinary feat. It then moved onto the dirt roads of eastern Africa — exposing the tensions between scientists and athletic trainers and the humble facilities that develop the top runners of the world.

The distribution strategy was designed to meet the consumer whenever and wherever they wanted — with broadcast airings in the U.S. and Europe and digital access across VOD/EST and on YouTube in 34 languages.


“Breaking2” is a 55-minute documentary produced by National Geographic Studios in association with Dirty Robber and in partnership with Nike. The film tells the journey of three world-class runners as they attempt to run a marathon in under two hours. Bringing humanity and personal voice to the enormity of this moonshot moment and incredible athletic pursuit, the film highlights the selection of runners, the identification of ideal marathon conditions, and the creation of a running shoe that can make it all possible — all while channeling the main characters as a source of personal inspiration.

Our objectives were to articulate the “Breaking2” project in a way that captured the hearts and minds of a global audience through the lens of our hallmark storytelling prowess and to create an inspiring all-access documentary that engaged consumers around the world to think about their very own potential.

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