Bank of America Salutes the World’s Most Inspiring Powerlifter in Compelling New Ad

Hill Holliday spot supports the Special Olympics

Are you strong? Manimal strong?

Powerlifter Chevi Peters, aka "Manimal," stars in this literally uplifting spot by Hill Holliday, part of a year-long, multichannel Bank of America campaign around the Special Olympics. 

Peters was born with biliary atresia, a life-threatening condition affecting the liver, and was not expected to live past the age of 2. He endured 38 major surgeries, including liver and kidney transplants, kicking each obstacle to the curb to realize his dreams. 

Now age 31, the 5-foot-2, 122-pound dynamo looks like he could kick some serious ass. (Certainly ours, at any rate. Dude can lift nearly three times his own body weight) Peters brushed aside all competition at the 2015 Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles, scoring three gold medals.

"When you watch the spot you can see there are a couple of points in Chevi's squat where it looks like he's not going to make it," says Ian Catmur, associate creative director at Hill Holliday. "But he somehow got the weight up. And when he did, the audience exploded. We were all kind of stunned by it and knew we'd just witnessed something really powerful. We wanted to share that triumphant moment and show the world what 'strong' really meant." 

Many feel-good stories would end right there, but this one has a twist. In addition to Peters' triumphs, his coach, John Lair, overcame issues with depression and built a Special Olympics program from scratch in Pittsburg, Kansas. 

"He and Coach Lair were each battling various demons when they met," says Catmur, "and their friendship helped them triumph over that adversity." Ultimately, theirs is a tale of human connection, mutual respect and support that makes the whole greater than the sum of its parts.

"We live in a society that seems to lavish attention on all the wrong people, from narcissistic reality TV stars to blowhard politicians. The world needs more genuine heroes," says Catmur. "We see this work as an antidote to all of the Black Friday/Cyber Monday madness. It's anti-clutter for a thinking, feeling audience."

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@DaveGian David Gianatasio is a longtime contributor to Adweek, where he has been a writer and editor for two decades. Previously serving as Adweek's New England bureau chief and web editor, he remains based in Boston.