Why Run a Marathon? This Wonderfully Fun Ad From Iceland Has Lots of Good Reasons

Shot in just two days, the spot is a film lover's delight

You better run. Marino Thorlacius

There are times when creatives sigh heavily, slump their shoulders and give themselves a facepalm when they see other work—not because it’s bad, but because the concept was right in front of them the whole time. That’s the reaction many might have to a new marathon ad out of Iceland.

Tipping its hat to a wide range of Hollywood set pieces and tropes, the spot promoting the Reykjavik Marathon, from financial institution Islandsbanki and Icelandic agency Brandenburg, reminds us that running can have its benefits in all manner of unexpected situations:

“You Better Run” is dense, engaging work that features 13 locations in the country and a frenetic string of cinematic Easter eggs, leaving it to viewers to sort out all the references. Some of the classics include North by Northwest, Sleeping Beauty, The Graduate and Goodfellas. Most impressively, the spot was shot over the course of only two days.

But it’s the concept that truly shines. The spark for the creative started when two of Iceland’s most famous actors approached the bank asking to participate, as long as their compensation went to the charity of their choice. Knowing that top-tier talent was available, the creative team pondered why people run and, in this case, why actors run. For most of the population, running is all about health. For actors, fear or survival is the strong motivator to get those legs pumping.

“We knew we had to do something special when we suddenly had the crème de la crème of Icelandic actors on board for promoting this year’s Reykjavik Marathon,” said Jón Ari Helgason, one of Brandenburg’s creative directors. “It was one of those rare moments we all crave where you know instantly that this is the idea to run with—pun intended.”

With high production values, Steve Winwood’s “Keep On Running” serves as the soundtrack for the work, giving it the perfect pacing. Sixty seconds might not seem a great deal of time for something this ambitious, but this is done exceptionally well and proves that a spot can accomplish quite a bit even in a short production window—as long as you hurry.


Client: Islandsbanki
Agency: Brandenburg
Creative Directors: Jón Ari Helgason, Hrafn Gunnarsson
Associate Creative Director: Högni Valur Högnason
Art Director: Dóra Haraldsdóttir
Copywriters: Bragi Valdimar Skúlason, Guðlaugur Aðalsteinsson
Account Executives: Sigríður Theódóra Pétursdóttir, Ragnar Gunnarsson
Production Company: Skot Production – Iceland
Directors: Samuel & Gunnar
Executive Producers: Hlynur Sigurðsson, Inga Lind Karlsdóttir
Producer: Andri Omarsson
D.O.P.: Ottar Gudnason
Editor: Gunnar Pall Olafsson
VFX: Kontrast
Color Correction: Seamus O’Kane, The Mill London
Online: Trickshot
Sound Design: Gunnar Arnason

@zanger doug.zanger@adweek.com Doug Zanger is a senior editor, agencies at Adweek, focusing on creativity and agencies.