Bloodthirsty Zombies Uncover the Magic of Running in Brooks’ Cinematic 3-Minute Ad

Leo Burnett launches the brand's first TV campaign

Running in a pair of sneakers made by Brooks Running has magical powers, according to the brand's very first national TV campaign. The power of the shoes (and running) can transform your day from dreary to delightful and can even transform a pack of bloodthirsty zombies into something that's, well, almost human.

While the full ad is a three-minute film, created in partnership with Leo Burnett Chicago, 15-second and 30-second teasers of the ad will air on TV on Feb. 13, during the Olympic Marathon Trials on NBC. The short clips will encourage people to head online to the Brooks website and check out the spot in its entirety.

The full three-minute ad, titled "The Rundead," feels cinematic, opening in the dead of night on a man running through an abandoned town—it almost seems lifted from an episode of The Walking Dead.

The man runs through a deserted diner and into an empty street while zombies chase after him. He finally enters into a store, stacked with boxes of Brooks shoes. Just when you think the man is about to strap on the brightly colored shoes and hit the open road, things take a turn for the unexpected…and weird.

As soon as the zombies lace up in their Brooks and start running, they transform from predators into carefree joggers—with one even reaching to stroke a fluffy black cat. With each mile, the non-living creatures run their anger away, just as a runner can feel his or her stress melt away after logging in a few miles after a long day at the office.

"We wanted to capture the transformative power of the run and create a call-to-action to inspire happiness and positivity through running. The visual progression from stumbling zombie to clear-eyed, happy runner in the TV spot perfectly captures how the run can make you feel more alive," Anne Cavassa, Brooks chief experience officer, told Adweek in an email.

But why put zombies (typically characterized as slow-moving and, well, pretty much dead) in an ad selling running shoes? Why not go after the stereotypical man or woman decked out in athletic apparel, sweating it out in the gym or on the trail?

Jon Wyville, EVP, creative director at Leo Burnett, said the agency wanted to find an unexpected way to get across Brooks' message—that running can change a day, a life and the world. That shoes, and running, have the power to transform anyone, even a zombie.

"We spent a lot of time thinking about the gradual evolution of the zombies," Wyville said. "We wanted the viewer to feel that evolution. They didn't immediately become runners. It took a little bit of time. As they got into the run, they started to feel all the thing the run can give you."

The spot closes with, "Running makes you feel alive," a clever line demonstrating that even supposedly dead zombies can slip on a pair of Brooks Running shoes and feel revived.


Client: Brooks Running

Agency:  Leo Burnett

Title: The Rundead

Chief Creative Officer: Mark Tutssel

Executive Creative Director/Art Director: Jon Wyville

Executive Creative Director/Copywriter: Dave Loew

SVP, Account Director: Varsha Kaura

VP, Planning Director: Udayan Kolandra

Account Director: Holly Springer

Head of Production: Vincent Geraghty

Agency Sr. Producer: Michael Petrucelly

Production Company: Furlined

Director: Björn Rühmann

Editorial Company: Whitehouse Post

Editor: Matthew Wood

Music/Sound Design: Human


Color Grade: MPC LA

Colorist: Ricky Gausis

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