Free soloing is hard in this sports endurance bar’s comic spot

McCann Bristol spoofs the likes of Alex Honnold in amusing campaign for VOOM Nutrition

Published On
May 01, 2024
A man scaling a rock face

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Free soloing is ripe for parody. There’s a certain satisfaction in puncturing the self-importance of people who take pride in constantly cheating death, as made famous in the Oscar-winning Alex Honnold film.

Enter VOOM Nutrition and McCann Bristol, which just released an amusing spot for POWR, a vegan sports endurance bar. The ad profiles a free climber who’s preparing to tackle “the Big One”—his version of El Capitan, which Honnold famously scaled in “Free Solo.” 

There are lots of “Free Solo” references here, actually, including the weepy girlfriend who can’t understand why her man seems to have a stronger relationship with a piece of rock than with her.

By the end of the ad, though, our hero proves to be ... not quite Honnold-esque.


There are a few counterintuitive things about this ad—the “power of plants” seems like a bit of a negative thing in the end, and the spot pulls no punches in making fun of outdoorsy people. But client and agency both say a bit of irreverence—and not overthinking things—is just what the category needs.

“We’re a challenger brand in sports nutrition, a category that can often take itself quite seriously,” said VOOM CEO Robin Higgens. “While we’re serious about creating our plant-based products, our team and our customers are outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy the unpredictability of nature, something McCann has expertly captured in the film.”

“Humor doesn’t often find its way into health and nutrition, so it’s been a breath of fresh air to write and shoot this, and to work with a bold client who understands that you don’t always have to land the brand in the first six seconds,” added Zane Radcliffe, McCann Bristol’s executive creative director. “The joy of this film is in its restraint. The product is the punchline, which makes it all the more powerful—never underestimate the power of funny!”

The spot was directed by Olivier Richomme at Chief, and stars Louis Parkinson, a well-known British professional rock climber. It launched in April across VOOM’s social channels.


May 01, 2024
Client :
VOOM Nutrition
Agency :
Chief Creative Officer :
Vince McSweeney
Executive Creative Director :
Zane Radcliffe
Head of Art :
Jake Pole
Designer :
Chris Rees
Production & VFX Company :
Director & Director of Photography :
Olivier Richomme
Executive Producer :
Colin Offland
Executive Producer :
Cris Mudge
1st AC :
Luis Zarzo
Production Manager :
Ellie Bonner
Production Assistant :
Billy Offland
Location Manager :
Jacob Dowdle
Production Designer :
Marc Ingham
Safety Climber :
Charlie Mackie
Editor :
Zach Pridding
VFX Supervisor :
Willem Wyatt

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