Speedo delivers a bit of a surprise package in its latest advertising.
Meet 91-year-old Masters swimmer Jurgen Schmidt, one star of the brand's "Fueled by Water" campaign, which focuses on the joy and freedom people experience by participating in aquatic activities. Schmidt hits the pool at 5 a.m. most days, has competed for 40 years, and is a bit reminiscent of Walt Stack, the 80-year-old jogger who starred in Nike's first "Just do it" ad.
A whole bunch of Web videos in the two- to three-minute range present personal stories. In addition to Schmidt, the Speedo work introduces more than a dozen other swimmers, surfers and divers, as well as a paddleboarder and a lifeguard.
The brand is often associated with elite competitors like Olympians Ryan Lochte and Natalie Coughlin, and they're in the campaign, too. (It's also frequently mocked for its snug-fitting men's swimsuits. Note my predictable quip above.) But this push aims to broaden Speedo's appeal and "start a new conversation about why people love the water and celebrate their passions," says David Lai, CEO and creative director at Hello Design, which created the campaign. "Our strategy is to resonate with a wider audience and have people think about Speedo a little differently."
Schmidt symbolizes swimming as a lifelong sport. "Many fitness swimmers tell us they're inspired to see octo- and even nanogenarians at the pool and at meets," says Lai, "so we set out to find a story of a senior swimmer. Poring over articles in magazines and online that featured Masters swimmers, we [selected] Jurgen because he just exuded the love of swimming and loved to talk about all aspects of it."
Speedo is smart to present everyday athletes and folks just having fun. We know we'll never win gold in the 50-meter freestyle, but everyone can relate to Schmidt's enthusiasm and heartfelt vow to "compete until the end." What's more, brands like Speedo and Beagle Street deserve praise for using seniors as more than props or the butt of jokes.
"As we were setting up one of our shots, Jurgen asked if it was OK if he kept swimming his workout even though we weren't shooting," recalls Lai. "We were worried he would get tired, but he just kept going and going. It was truly impressive, and I think the entire crew was inspired by his positive energy."
Check out the anthem spot below.