Johnnie Walker helps paralyzed athlete walk

Marc-Herremans

Well, not really. But toward the end of this 90-second BBH clip, Marc Herremans—a Belgian triathlete paralyzed from the chest down since a 2002 bike-training accident—rises from his wheelchair and takes several steps before turning to face the reality of himself, still unable to walk but determined to move forward with his ambitions. “When your reality changes, your dreams don’t have to,” Herremans says in the voiceover. Using a guy who “Keeps walking” even when he can’t is a provocative choice—reminiscent of the old Super Bowl ad for Nuveen Investments that showed Christopher Reeve rising and walking again. There was a significant outcry against the Nuveen spot, but Reeve stuck by it. He told Adweek in 2000: “It was not an irresponsible commercial. Time magazine had an editorial condemning me for raising false hope. It was written by a journalist who had been in a wheelchair for 22 years—and I can understand his cynicism. After that much time in a wheelchair, how can one dare to hope?”