Dwayne Johnson is serious. It shows in the sweat on his brow, the throbbing of his veins and and the intensity in his eyes when he hits the gym in a pair of new videos promoting Project Rock, his brand tie-up with Under Armour.
The work is the first campaign to come out of Seven Bucks Creative, the creative agency that Johnson and his business partner Dany Garcia founded in September.
Themed "Build the Belief," the effort comprises footage of Johnson and others in the throes of real, grueling workouts. The lead video includes a voiceover by Johnson recounting the work and perseverance that took him from just seven dollars in his pocket to his success today. "When your back is up against the wall," he says, "the only way out is to put the work in." Another "Superzoom" video homes in on Johnson as he's doing tricep dips, an enormous chain hanging around his neck, the soundtrack growing in intensity with each rep.
The campaign specifically promotes the "Chase Greatness" collection of Project Rock shoes and athletic gear, but it's designed to position the brand as more than a product line, according to Seven Bucks Chief Marketing Officer Chet Gulland, the former Droga5 executive whom Garcia and Johnson hired to lead their creative shop.
"We wanted to take a minute to think big again and rearticulate the vision, with an eye to being more inclusive to men and women around the world, no matter where you are or are from," Gulland says. "As long as you're willing to put in the work, then you're part of Project Rock."
That thinking also went into how the films were made. Photographer Ture Lillegraven shot Johnson in his own Iron Paradise gym, doing his real daily workout. "For Dwayne everything with Project Rock is real, no posing, no set-up shots," Gulland says. "So we all quickly knew we had to capture him in his gym in the way the world hadn't seen yet. It's like he's going to do his workout and we're going to plan everything around that, but we're not going to ask him at any point to do that again. From a production standpoint, it was really interesting and we had to orchestrate to get the shots we needed around what was a very real authentic and obviously intense moment."
The films will roll out over the next week on Johnson's social channels, which have more than 172 million followers.
Seven Bucks Creative's contribution extended beyond the marketing. The agency works side-by-side with Under Armour on all aspects of Project Rock product development, from the choice of materials to the hang-tags. "If people are going to recognize a piece of gear just by looking at it, what are the things it needs to deliver on functionally and emotionally with the story?" Gulland says. "There's a lot of potential to weave into every detail and aspect the DNA of what DJ stands for. [We want] to make sure you're not just putting on a shirt or a pair of shoes, you're putting on a story that inspired you, that you connect with and really feel when you wear it."