Team Canada’s Winter Warriors Prep for Warmer Weather in Striking Rio 2016 Ads

Cossette work drips with defiance

Canada's climate includes harsh terrain and gnarly winters—which is why its athletes are so hardcore, says a new ad for the nation's Olympics team.

The Canadian Olympic Committee and agency Cossette created the campaign, titled "Ice in Our Veins," for this year's Summer Games in Brazil. The :60 centerpiece commercial immediately draws a distinction between the frozen landscape onscreen, and Rio de Janeiro, the famous beach town where the 2016 competition will be held in August. 

In the spot, a dozen Canadian Olympic hopefuls represent a range of sports, making intense faces while training on icy tundra. They run among caribou and Arctic wolves. They hurl javelins across ominous gray skies. They dive off glaciers into frigid saltwater. Meanwhile, magical flames lick the bottom of the frame, and dramatic copy rattles off the competitive benefits of a sub-zero environment.

"The cold steels our resolve. The wind thickens our skin … so that, in the heat of the fight, all we feel is the fire in our hearts, and the ice in our veins," the voiceover intones.

The work builds on Proximity Canada's more pensive effort for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, which also featured striking landscapes with lone athletes trekking through snow. In that one, a narrator read 19th century Canadian poetry about the country's beautiful—if uninviting—terrain.

Cossette filmed the 2016 campaign, Team Canada's largest yet, with production house Skin and Bones and 12 athletes over two days on a remote Georgian Bay beach in Ontario. They cut from more than 40 hours of footage, but don't worry too much about frostbite: Depending on when they were there—and how many wintry effects were added in postproduction—the shoot may well have been warm and pleasant. 

In fact, part of the campaign's charm is the cheeky way it plays on general conceptions—or misconceptions—about Canada being perpetually cold, when much of its population actually lives in areas that are pleasantly mild in the summer (Iqaluit, the capitol of grocery-gouged Northern province Nunavet, sees an average high of 54°F in July).

But as any storyteller knows, it's important never to let the facts get in the way of chest-thumping bravado—especially heading into a worldwide competition for fame and glory.

Below are print variations for "Ice in Our Veins," featuring each of the athletes from the ad.

CREDITS
Client: Canadian Olympic Committee
Agency: Cossette, Canada
Chief Creative Officers: Peter Ignazi, Carlos Moreno
Director: Mark Zibert
Production House: Skin and Bones
Editing House: Saints Editorial
Media Agency: OMD
Communications Agency of Record: North Strategic