Under Armour and The Rock Elevate a New Generation of Role Models With ‘Will Finds a Way’

A diverse roster of campaign stars, united by tenacity

Ambitious and relentless Taekwondo champion Zoe Zhang is currently an action film actor, 'but I might be something new by next year.' Under Armour
Headshot of David Griner

Under Armour and Droga5 are back with a sprawling new campaign celebrating grit, ambition and the willingness to be the hardest-working person in the room.

The campaign, called “Will Finds a Way,” stars no fewer than eight athletes and inspiring fitness icons. Introducing this new generation of stars is the Most Electrifying Man in Sports, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, here stepping out of the spotlight a bit to help welcome fresh talent onto the global stage.

You might recognize some of the personalities, such as American Ninja Warrior star Jessie Graff or NBA point guard Dennis Smith Jr. Several have been featured by Under Armour in previous ads, including Yusra Mardini, a Syrian refugee and Olympic swimmer.

But most of the faces and stories will likely be new to you, with each compelling tale told through its own customized art direction and atmosphere, keeping the multi-part campaign from feeling repetitive.

First let’s check out the anthem spot, anchored by The Rock and directed by the Malloy Brothers, Emmett and Brandon Malloy:

Where the campaign truly shines, though, is in the breakout spots directed by Superprime’s Nathalie Canguilhem focused on each highly competitive and motivated athlete.

Zoe Zhang is a Chinese actress and martial arts star whose evolution is the only constant in her career and her life:

Fellow martial artist Jessie Graff, who drew global attention as the first woman to complete American Ninja Warrior’s grueling Stage 1 obstacle course, was featured in Under Armour’s “Unlike Any” campaign and is back, this time reflecting on her “failures” as an Olympic athlete and how she found a new path to glory:

Natasha Hastings is a world champion sprinter who evolved from shy stunt to ultra-glamorous track star. In her new “Will Finds a Way” clip, she discusses the character she created on the track and how she envisions success before her feet even leave the blocks:

Two-time Olympic Gold medalist and 10-time world champion Teddy Riner is a French judo star who, despite his dominance in the ring, can’t seem to stop smiling when he describes the mindset it takes to be at the top of the podium:

Dennis Smith Jr., point guard for the Dallas Mavericks, talks about how family and determination got him through the ACL tear that almost derailed his career before it even began:

Yusra Mardini isn’t even 21 yet and already has lived a life of tragedy, heroism and sheer determination. Escaping the Syrian conflict, she helped save the lives of her fellow refugees by swimming their boat to safety. She went on to be part of the storied Refugee Olympic Team and is now training to return to the Games in 2020.

At age 11, Javon Wanna Walton is already a state champion in both boxing and gymnastics. What he’ll accomplish before adulthood is anyone’s guess, but the one certainty is that this isn’t the last we’ll see of him:

Also featured in the anthem spot is Johnny Agar, a triathlete with cerebral palsy. He doesn’t have a standalone spot in the new campaign, but it’s certainly worth going back to this mashup video Under Armour published in his honor last year:

Under Armour says “Will Finds a Way” is a celebration of surmounting any obstacle, whether mental, physical or rooted in society’s expectations.

“The Under Armour team proudly refers to Dwayne Johnson as the ‘Motivator of the Masses,’ and together we bring this campaign to the world in celebration of our fused belief that with the right amount of will power, all athletes—including the UA athletes featured alongside him in this campaign—can find their way to the top,” says Adrienne Lofton, svp of global brand management for Under Armour. “Will defies expectations, beats all odds and propels greatness, and through our ‘Will Finds A Way’ campaign we are challenging the world to push beyond their physical and mental boundaries to manifest the best in themselves and those around them.”

As for Dwayne Johnson, he says he’s proud to be part of a campaign that’s focused on the kind of unstoppable attitude that got him through the ups and downs of his career.

“Over the years, I’ve failed hard and had my dreams crushed, which inevitably put my back up against the wall. Through that struggle on my way back up, I’ve learned there’s one undeniable constant to success, and that’s to always be the hardest worker in the room,” Johnson says in a statement. “Our Under Armour ‘Will Finds A Way’ campaign celebrates the power will has to overcome the odds and achieve the unthinkable. I’m honored to work alongside some of the most hard-working everyday women and men—and kids—for this campaign, all of which have risen to greatness through unwavering will, determination and being the hardest worker in the room.”

Client: Under Armour
Campaign: Will Finds A Way

Agency: Droga5 NY
Creative Chairman: David Droga
Executive Creative Director: Felix Richter
Group Creative Director: Brandon Pierce
Creative Director: Ray Smiling
Sr. Copywriter: Becca Pottinger
Copywriter: Stephen Shocket
Sr. Art Director: Sam McCluskey
Art Director: Patrick Horton
Associate Design Director: Nate Moore
Sr. Designer: Jaymes Barone
Co-Director of Film Production: Jesse Brihn
Executive Producer, Film: Kyle Wright
Sr. Producer, Film: Carole McCarty
Producer, Film: Nathan Pardee
Associate Producer, Film: Taylor Donaldson
Director of Art Production: Cliff Lewis
Music Supervisor: Mike Ladman
Business Affairs Manager: Daniella Vargas
Co-Head of Strategy: Harry Román-Torres
Group Strategy Director: Will Davie
Strategist: Newman Granger
Head of Communications Strategy: Colleen Leddy
Group Communications Strategy Director: Dominic Poynter
Sr. Communications Strategist: Kathryn Ruocco
Sr. Data Strategist: Janet Kim
Junior Data Strategist: Greg Berard
Group Account Director: Philippa Campbell
Account Director: Kate Tyler Monroe
Account Manager: Megan Haggerty
Associate Account Manager: Abby Vigdor
Senior Project Manager: Carolyn Brafman
Counsel: Sarah Fox
Associate Counsel: Zachary Werner

Client: Under Armour
CEO & Founder: Kevin Plank
President & Chief Operating Officer: Patrik Frisk
SVP, Global Brand Management: Adrienne Lofton
Chief of Staff to SVP, Brand Management: Elise Conway
Sr. Director, Global Brand Management: Julian Duncan
Sr. Lead, Global Brand Management: Bené Eaton
Campaign Manager, Global Marketing Operations: Eleni Polites
Director, Category Marketing – Men’s Train: Stephen Perkins
Manager, Category Marketing – Men’s Train: Sarah Magnuson
Manager, Category Marketing – Women’s: Cate Goytisolo
VP, Global Brand Creative: Brian Boring
Director, Photography: James Michelfelder
Creative Director: Kristian Espinosa
Art Director: Jason Lehigh
Art Director: Nathaniel Grundhauser
Senior Graphic Designer: Meg Tiffany
Copywriter: Alex Porter
SVP, Digital Marketing, Media: Jim Mollica
Sr. Director, Social Media Strategy: Jack Daley
Sr. Director, Global Media: Kelly McArdle
Director, Integrated Brand Communications: Corey Nocco
SVP, Global Communications: Diane Pelkey
Director, Global Communications: Erin Wendell
VP, Brand Management – Channels & Regions: Attica Jacques
VP, North America Marketing: Courtney Carlson
Senior Marketing Director, Under Armour Europe: Paul Nugent
Marketing Director, Under Armour China: Lydia Zhu

Production Company (Will Finds a Way): Superprime
Directors: The Malloys
DOP: Jody Lee Lipes
Producer: William Green
Managing Director: Michelle Ross, Rebecca Skinner
Head of Production: Roger Zorovich

Production Company (Athlete Stories): Superprime
Director: Nathalie Canguilhem
DOP: Adrien Bertolle
Producer: John Nguyen
Managing Director: Michelle Ross, Rebecca Skinner
Head of Production: Roger Zorovich

Editorial (Will Finds a Way): Cartel
Editor: Leo Scott
Assistant Editor: Matt Berardi and Josh Lee
Partner/Executive Producer: Lauren Bleiweiss
Producer: Greer Bratschie
Flame + Colour: WAX

Editorial (Athlete Stories): WAX
Editor: Eddie Ringer
Assistant Editor: Drew Balke
Managing Partner: Toni Lipari
Head of Production: Evan Kerwood
Flame + Colour: WAX

Mix (Will Finds a Way + Athlete Stories): HUMAN
Mix (Athlete Stories): Sonic Union

@griner david.griner@adweek.com David Griner is creative and innovation editor at Adweek and host of Adweek's podcast, "Yeah, That's Probably an Ad."