In 2014, figure skaters Mirai Nagasu and Adam Rippon were left off the Olympic team heading to Sochi, Russia. For the two athletes, it was a low point in their respective careers. And during the Sochi Olympics, Rippon and Nagasu consoled one another while eating In-N-Out burgers on Nagasu’s roof.
The memory, which Rippon recounted to NBC’s Mike Tirico following the team event in Pyeongchang, South Korea, where the 2018 Winter Games took place, became a talked-about anecdote, particularly as Rippon and Nagasu both took home bronze medals. So it was only fitting that when they teamed up again, this time for a new campaign for DSW, they recreated that moment on their own terms.
“I thought it would be a great idea to tie this all back together,” Nagasu, who suggested the idea to the DSW team, said. “Four years ago, when we didn’t make the Olympics, we were crying and eating burgers. Now they’re celebratory burgers. “
“It was actually a really sad moment, but we were able to own it and turn it into something really awesome,” Rippon said. “When I think back to that moment specifically, I think of somebody who wasn’t in a great place. But that moment pushed me to go to the Olympics and have that experience and share it with Mirai. It made everything that much sweeter.”
Working with DSW felt like a natural fit for the pair. Rippon calls the footwear retailer his “secret weapon” when it comes to fashion and said the campaign felt like it was “within my wheelhouse.” And a campaign that is all about being true to yourself and embracing individuality like this one, created with 360i, was a perfect fit, they said.
“This is a campaign about confidence and self-expression,” Rippon, who was named to Adweek’s Creative 100 list earlier this month, said. “Through fashion, it’s so important to be able express yourself. And when you do that, you’re giving yourself the permission to be yourself.”
Besides the cheeseburger moment, they posed for several images in the campaign, which was shot in Los Angeles and includes digital—dsw.com, web, social media, email—and in-store marketing/experiences. Nagasu and Rippon also hosted a DSW Block Party at one of the store’s New York locations on June 27.
Both Olympians skyrocketed to international fame following their turn at the Winter Olympics. In the aftermath of that experience, both have been working more with sponsors outside the skating world. And with the Olympics behind them, working with brands and offering their own creative input was at the top of both of their priority lists.
“To be a part of the creative process has been really important to us,” Nagasu said. “Before the Olympics, I was all about reaching that goal, staying in shape and being able to represent Team USA to the best of my ability. And now I’m more about expressing myself and my own views.”
Nagasu said she and Rippon are “grateful” to have the opportunity to work together outside the skating world. As both of their profiles have risen post-Olympics, they’ve viewed keeping up close relationships with their families and longtime friends as a key to staying down to earth.
“We’ve both tried to stay connected to the people we’ve always been close to,” Rippon said. “Something like this, with someone I’ve known for so long—it’s a way to do something fun and big while also staying grounded and remembering where you’ve come from.”