P&G Raises the Stakes in Its Latest, Darkly Brilliant ‘Thank You, Mom’ Masterpiece

W+K salutes moms for their strength ahead of Rio

We're exactly 100 days out from the opening of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, and less than two weeks away from Mother's Day. To mark both occasions, Procter & Gamble has brought back its "Thank you, mom" campaign for another round. And this time, the marketer has both broadened the scope of why it's celebrating moms and zeroed in on a particular attribute—their strength.

The spot was created by Wieden + Kennedy in Portland, Ore., and directed by Jeff Nichols of Rattling Stick. And while previous installations of "Thank you, mom" have mostly focused on the effort and sacrifice mothers make specifically in helping their sons and daughters train for sports, this new spot goes further—showing vignettes of them being rocks for their kids beyond athletics and into their everyday lives.

Many of the vignettes are quite dark. The young athletes aren't just facing the physical and emotional challenges of preparation and competition. They're facing oncoming tornadoes, frightening airplane turbulence, car crashes. In each case, the terrified youngster is soothed by his or her unflappable mother. And only later do we connect this sense of grounding to the athlete's ability to perform under pressure at the highest level of sport.

The final frames are quite familiar, showing—as the past ads did—the athletes and moms embracing after Olympic victory. Those images, connecting public glory to personal love and dedication, have become a visual shorthand for P&G's Olympic marketing and continue to nicely position the packaged-goods company, in its behind-the-scenes role, as the champion and enabler of mothers everywhere (who are themselves, in a nice parallel dynamic, champions and enablers of their offspring).

If the vignettes here seem particularly dramatic, that's because P&G has to keep the campaign evolving even after it perfected the form back in 2012 with "Best Job." And the darker, cinematic visions here feel like a great way of raising the stakes in a way that still connects emotionally. (Also, the idea of celebrating female strength is a very relevant one today, and already a popular one this Mother's Day, as we saw with the Teleflora spot surprisingly set to a Vince Lombardi speech.)

The final onscreen lines of the new spot are perfect, too: "It takes someone strong to make someone strong." That's an even better exclamation point than the "Best Job" coda ("The hardest job in the world is the best job in the world").

As follow-ups to famous campaigns go, it doesn't get much stronger than this.

CREDITS

Client: Procter & Gamble

Project: "Strong"

Agency: Wieden + Kennedy, Portland, Ore.

Creative Directors: Karl Lieberman/Eric Baldwin

Copywriter: Matt Mulvey

Art Director: Lawrence Melilli

Integrated Executive Producer: Erika Madison

Account Team: Jordan Cappadocia/Ebony Francis/Eric Gabrielson

Production Company: Rattling Stick

Director: Jeff Nichols

Executive Producer: Joe Biggins

Line Producer: Sally Humphries

Director of Photography: Adam Stone

Editorial Company: Joint

Editor : Peter Wiedensmith

Assistant Editor: Dylan Sylwester

Post Producer: Jen Milano

Post Executive Producer: Leslie Carthy

VFX Company: The Mill

Executive Creative Director: Phil Crowe

2D Lead Artist: Glyn Tebbutt

3D Lead Artist: Nick Lines

Executive Producer: Enca Kaul

Senior Producer: Chris Harlowe

Production Coordinator: Mary Hayden

Company: Company 3

Colorist: Tom Poole

Producer: Rochelle Brown

Music Supervision: Walker

President/Founder: Sara Matarazzo

Music Track: "Experience" by Ludovico Einaudi

Sound Design: Brian Emrich

Additional Sound Design/Mix: Noah Woodburn @ Joint

Mix Company: Eleven

Mixer: Jeff Payne

Producer: Suzanne Hollingshead