Each month, Millward Brown Digital will highlight a digital creative ad that is worthy of industry mention. The creative may reflect some of today’s most important digital best practices and/or it generates a strong, positive consumer virality and buzz.

This Month’s Focus:
Brand: Under Armour
Ad: Michael Phelps, Rule Yourself
Ad Length: 90s
Creative Agency: Droga 5

Like Super Bowl marketing, advertising leading up to and around the time of the Olympics offers the best of what the industry has to offer. Under Armour’s moving, visually compelling “Rule Yourself” series and long-form video ad, featuring Michael Phelps, continues this tradition.

The series previously featured ads spotlighting intense training regimes of the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics and Dutch soccer star Memphis Depay. The ad is stunning, in a mostly blue and grey color palette, and features the soundtrack “The Last Goodbye” from the Kills. It spotlights Phelps’ intense pre-dawn training for what will likely be his last Olympics bid.

The ad was released on March 8, 2016 and Under Armour pushed the video out with this tweet.

under armour

The video quickly caught fire and received a strong earned media boost from influencers, such as Casey Neistat. At the time of this blog, it has over 4.9 million views and 28,000 likes.

The ad is not obviously branded, other than branding on Phelps’ apparel, until the very end of the ad. However, its views and virality provide proof that strong narrative and visual quality provide the keys to garnering audience attention even in this era of ad blocking and skips. Striking this balance can be a challenging creative ask and, often, pre-campaign testing helps identify strengths and virality potential.

Have you seen this ad yet? What do you think?

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