It's been seven months since the fight in which she lost her bantamweight title. But now Ronda Rousey is back in the spotlight—this time for Reebok—and it looks like she's got something to say.
The UFC champion appears with flowing hair and a sparkly low-cut dress, standing in the middle of a film set. "Here's the thing about being perfect," Rousey begins as she sashays dramatically off-set. "Perfect never gets truly tested."
As she builds on this manifesto, she begins to remove the trappings of glamour—beginning with her fake eyelashes (ouch!), then coolly brushing hair extensions out with her fingers.
"Perfect never gets to silence its critics," Rousey goes on. "Perfect never gets a shot at redemption."
"So, yeah," she concludes. "I'm fine not being perfect." Then she steps back into the figurative ring, closing the ad with a series of punches.
Rousey's November 2015 match, where she defended and ultimately lost her UFC World Bantamweight Championship title to Holly Holm, was promoted with a powerful ad that followed their journeys from childhood to challengers. It marked the seventh consecutive time she had defended her position, and she hasn't fought since. Holm ultimately lost the belt to Miesha Tate in March, and Amanda Nunes has won it since.
While "#PerfectNever," by agency Venables Bell & Partners, is generally being read as a precursor to Rousey's comeback (probably by year's end or in early 2017), it also packs a message for the self-image of women. The opening scene recalls the end of Dove's "Evolution," in which a normal-looking model is transformed—first via makeup, then digitally—into the perfect woman for an ad.
In the case of this (much shorter) piece, Rousey evolves in the reverse, with a no less impactful ending: She begins as a marketing ideal, then contemptuously sheds it as she walks, finishing sweat-drenched and ponytailed, muscular, hard-jawed … and totally in her element. She doesn't just shake off an embarrassing and surprising loss; she also shakes off conventions of what a woman should look like, and feel, and how we're asked to behave. Perfection is, after all, a game we're meant to lose by design.
The tagline for the campaign is, aptly, "Be more human."
Agency: Venables Bell & Partners