We don’t know a whole lot about Eugen Merher, the German director and Filmacademy Baden-Wuerttemberg student behind this “Break Free” spec spot for Adidas, but the ad stands apart from a pack of overly similar work in the category.
Clearly spec work has certain advantages, as Merher didn’t have the constraints of a creative brief. But “Break Free” manages to tell a moving story — and one with the brand (albeit not a recent product) at the center.
The spot focuses on an old man in a retirement home, who we later learn is a former marathon runner. He seems worn down by the monotonous routine of his living situation, until he notices an old pair of Adidas sneakers, which sparks his old passion for running. After repeated failed efforts, and a little help, he’s able to get past the nurses and out the doors of the retirement home for a run in the fresh air.
While it requires a certain suspension of disbelief at some of the more over-the-top authoritarian aspects of the retirement home and its desire to keep its inhabitants from the outdoors, “Break Free” has a lot going for it if you’re able to look past its flaws. Namely, it’s a nice little piece of storytelling, built around an idea which positions the brand as the impetus for a fundamental change in the ad’s hero. Sure, it doesn’t show off Adidas’ latest model but it helps the brand stand out a good deal more than yet another anthem ad about ignoring the doubters and achieving greatness.
Adidas, apparently, was not impressed.
“We tried sending it to [Adidas’] communications department but they didn’t really react,” Merher told The Huffington Post.
Now that the ad is attracting a lot of online attention, currently trending number 26 on YouTube, maybe the brand will take notice.