Last week, W+K Portland launched an Olympic campaign for Powerade starring 19-year-old U.S. Olympic bantamweight boxer Shakur Stevenson.
The cinematic, two-minute spot “The Corner” introduces Stevenson to viewers as he receives a mid-fight pep-talk from his coach, who tells him “Three more rounds and you walk out of here a champion.” As the ad, and the fight, continues, viewers get a glimpse into Stevenson’s motivation with flashbacks to his upbringing in the tough streets of Newark, New Jersey.
After the bell rings for a round, he thinks back to fighting a bully who stole his hat. When he receives a tough blow to the head in the next round he flashes back to walking out his front door as a kid to see a burning car in the middle of the road, later he remembers him mom telling him “I know you’re not dripping blood on my floor” while dressing his wounds after a fight. A 30-second broadcast version of the spot will air during the Rio 2016 Olympics.
The mid-fight flashback device is somewhat familiar territory for boxing narratives (and sports advertising in general) , but the approach serves the ad well. It allows W+K to tell a compelling narrative in the two-minute time frame. (Other brands/agencies should take note that you don’t have to stretch ads to ridiculous lengths to explore the narrative possibilities of an online ad.) It also is perhaps the most convincing execution yet of Powerade’s “Just A Kid” campaign and a fitting follow-up to April’s “Undisputed” spot starring Stevenson, part of a series that also included “Girl’s Place,” a spot featuring fellow Olympic boxer Claressa “T-Rex” Shields, who became the first American woman to win a gold medal in boxing at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
“There isn’t a match that goes by where I don’t pause at least once to think about where I came from and all that I’ve been through,” Stevenson said in a statement. “I’m proud to be just a kid from Newark. The city raised me. I hope this commercial inspires others to believe that with hard work, where you’re from and the difficulties you faced will never be a barrier to where you can go and what you can accomplish.”
Spot: “The Corner”
Agency: Wieden + Kennedy, Portland, Ore.
Creative Directors: Max Stinson/Erik Fahrenkopf/Scott Kaplan
Copywriter: Wayne Kasserman
Art Director: Cameron Soane
Producer: Jennifer Fiske
Production Company: Iconoclast
Director: Romain Gavras
Executive Producer: Charles-Marie Anthonioz
Line Producer: Julien Lemaitre
Director of Photography: Rodrigo Prieto
Editorial Company: PS 260
Editor: Walter Mauriot
Post Producer: Laura Lamb Patterson
Assistant Editor: Tyler Hurst
VFX Company: The Mill
Managing Director: Rani Melendez
VFX Producer: Daniel Midgley
Production Coordinator: Courtney Prather, Chris Lewis, Alex Benavente
Shoot Supervisor/Creative Dir.: John Leonti
2D Lead Artist: Bill Higgins
3D Lead Artist: Matt Longwell
Matte Painting: Itai Muller
Colorist: Yvan Lucas / Shed LA
Music + Sound Design: Marco Casanova
Mix Company: Lime Studios
Mixer: Loren Silber