Procter & Gamble's "Tough Love" ad, which celebrates the pride and determination of athletes and their moms ahead of next month's Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, manages to play on the heartstrings without hitting a saccharin note.
Not long ago, images of kids without limbs struggling to excel in sports would have been viewed as appropriate for fund-raising PSAs but too downbeat for other types of advertising. It's a mark of how far we've come that such visuals are now seen as inspiring and triumphant. And the found footage in this minute-long clip from Wieden + Kennedy, Portland, Ore., showing determined youngsters swimming, racing and skating (with their supportive moms nearby), is especially soul stirring.
Paralympic snowboarder Amy Purdy narrates: "You could have protected me. You could have taken every hit. You could have turned the world upside down so that I would never feel pain. But you didn't. You gave me my freedom because you were strong. And now, so am I."
The ad, running both online and on TV, debuted on Feb. 19 and has racked up 2.2 million YouTube views so far. Part of P&G's "Thank you, Mom" campaign, the spot serves as a companion piece to W+K's similarly themed viral hit "Pick Them Back Up," which follows four athletes from their baby steps to Olympic glory.
Taken together, the two spots make the point that all athletes, regardless of ability or skill level, similarly strive toward their goals. They fight to overcome long odds, personal travails and self-doubt—often relying on the dedication and perseverance of their moms to help them succeed. Such equality communicates a simple, universal truth: You have to let them fall a few times before they can soar.