Hennessy's stylish saga spotlights Black chess Grandmaster Maurice Ashley

Latest in the 'Wild Rabbit' campaign from Droga5 recreates his rise to success, with lessons for today

Published On
Sep 14, 2020

Editor's Pick

Maurice Ashley, the first ever Black chess grandmaster, is the subject of the latest film from Hennessy in its "Wild Rabbit" series. In a campaign that reunites agency Droga5, director Daniel Wolfe of Somesuch and narrator Nas, who all worked on previous spots for the brand, the brand depicts how the Brooklyn resident became a protégé of The Black Bear School, a legendary group of street chess players, and then went on to achieve his elite ranking in the strategy game.

The campaign, kicking off today, comprises several elements, including long-form content, short-form TV ads and a documentary that takes more of an in-depth look at Ashley's rise to success.  

A two-minute film recreates the Black Bear School in the early '90s, featuring the clothes, art and and locations of the time based on archival photography and conversations with surviving members of the group. According to Droga5 Creative Director Thom Glover, parts of the films were shot on cameras and film stocks from the period. The street art that appears in many of the shots are all originals, created by Brooklyn graffiti artist David “Chino” Villorente, a legend of the era.

Music is also key. “The mixtape approach to the soundtrack touches not only on the hip hop of the era, but also the jazz and soul records the older members of the Black Bear School used to play during matches, before crescendoing in an extract from Mozart’s Requiem, a key element of the soundtrack to 'Amadeus,' the study of the development of the mind of another genius, and Maurice’s favorite movie,” says Alexander Nowak, Global Head of Art, Droga5.

The campaign also includes a series of short-form ads that bring to life the “Lessons of a Grandmaster," illustrating the lessons Ashley learned through playing chess and drawing parallels to strategies that can be used in everyday life, like using patience as a "weapon" and defeating your opponent by "becoming" them.

Previous "Wild Rabbit" subjects include the spot's narrator Nas, cyclist Marshall "Major" Taylor, boxer Manny Pacquiao and speed demon Sir Malcolm Campbell. “The eighth installment of the Wild Rabbit campaign comes at a time of momentous social significance, and the relevance of Ashley’s story—his mental agility, intellectual integrity and ability to harness intellect to move the game forward – provides inspiration to all the thinkers, visionaries and doers who continue to propel a more inclusive future,” says Giles Woodyer, senior vice president, Hennessy U.S.

 

Credits

Date
Sep 14, 2020
Client :
Hennessy
Agency :
Droga5-New York
Creative Chairman :
David Droga
Co-Chief Creative Officer :
Tim Gordon
Co-Chief Creative Officer :
Felix Richter
Global Head of Art :
Alexander Nowak
Creative Director :
Thom Glover
Senior Copywriter :
Ted Meyer
Copywriter :
Emily Berger
Senior Art Director :
Jason Gold
Associate Director of Film Production :
Ruben Mercadal
Associate Producer Film :
Connor Hagan
Music Supervisor :
Mike Ladman
Director of Business Affairs :
Dan Simonetti
Celebrity Talent Relations Lead & Sr. Business Affairs Manager :
Whitney Vose
Senior Business Affairs Manager :
Ann Marie Turbitt
Director of Art Production :
Cliff Lewis
Associate Director Art Production :
Bianca Escobar
Global Chief Strategy Officer :
Jonny Bauer
Head of Strategy New Business :
Will Davie
Strategy Director :
Ryan McDaid
Strategy Director :
Drew Simel
Brand Strategist :
Justin Clagette
Head of Communications Strategy :
Dean Challis
Group Comms Strategy Director :
Delphine McKinley
Senior Communications Strategis :
Mariel Milner
Group Data Strategy Director :
Christina Fieni
Data Strategist :
Greg Berard
Group Account Director :
Lindsay Cole
Account Director :
Marissa Guerra
Account Supervisor :
Mosito Ramaili
Associate Account Manager :
Vanessa Foinquinos
Senior Project Manager :
Sarah Arrillaga
Project Manager :
Danielle Gibbons
SVP Hennessy :
Giles Woodyer
Chief Marketing Officer :
Michael Aidan
Global VP Marketing Premium Range :
Amanda Hawk
Senior Brand Director Hennessy V.S :
Deon Harris
Senior Director Media Investments & Partnerships :
Seth Zaharako
Production Company :
Somesuch
Director :
Daniel Wolfe
Executive Producer :
Nicky Barnes
Producer :
Adriana Cebada Mora
Service Production Company :
The Lift
Partner/Producer :
Jose Barrera
Line Producer :
Fuad Abed Dalton
Production Manager :
Helena Medina
Photography :
Second Child
Stills Photographer :
Paul McGiever
Managing Director :
Scott Chinn
Producer :
Chelsea Greenwood
Editorial Company :
Cut + Run
Editorial Company :
The Quarry
Editor :
Paul Watts
Assistant Editor :
Beau Dickson
Executive Producer :
Ellese Shell
Executive Producer :
Tor Adams
Managing Director :
Lauren Hertzberg
Color :
Framestore
Colorist :
Simon Bourne
Senior Producer :
Chris Anthony
35mm Film Print :
DeJonghe
Post Production :
The Mill
Director of Production :
Andrew Sommerville
Production Supervisor :
Heino Henning
Senior Producer :
Mandy Harris
Associate Producer :
Nathan Niamehr
VFX Shoot Supervisor :
Dan Williams
VFX Shoot Supervisor :
Ruben Vandebroek
Creative Director :
Dan Williams
Creative Director :
Gavin Wellsman
2D Lead Artist :
Keith Sullivan
3D Lead Artist :
Yong Chan Kim
Art Director :
Fionna Lanning
Music :
Q Department
Sound Design and Mix :
Wave Studios
Sound Designer/Mixer :
Aaron Reynolds
Executive Producer :
Vicky Ferraro
Producer :
Eleni Giannopoulos
Artist / Main VO :
Nas
Secondary VO :
David Callahan
Chess Consultant :
Maurice Ashley
TItle Design :
Fraser Muggeridge
Historical Researcher :
Tamsin Rawady
Production Company :
Somesuch
Director :
Elliott Power
Executive Producer :
Nicky Barnes
Producer :
Erin Kennedy
Editorial Company :
Cut + Run
Editor :
Beau Dickson
Managing Director :
Lauren Hertzberg
Executive Producer :
Ellese Shell
Producer :
Marcia Wigley
Post Production :
Jogger
Music :
Epidemic Sound
Music :
SoStero
Sound Design and Mix :
Wave Studios
Sound Designer/Mixer :
Aaron Reynolds
Executive Producer :
Vicky Ferraro
Producer :
Eleni Giannopoulos
TItle Design :
Dorcia Studios
Creative Director :
Daryl Higgins
Additional Photography :
Saint Louis Chess Club
Additional Photography :
Spectrum Studios
Photographer :
Kevin Duggin

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