In 1899, Marshall "Major" Taylor became the first African-American to win a world championship in cycling. Largely forgotten for decades, the sports pioneer is now memorialized in a new spot for Hennessey cognac, the latest in the spirit brand's long-running "Wild Rabbit" campaign.
A 90-second short film directed by Derek Cianfrance--best known for the Ryan Gosling vehicle "Blue Valentine"--finds Taylor on the track of a velodrome, legs pumping furiously as he zips past competitors with preternatural speed. As he nears the end of the race, his true opponent--Taylor himself--finally comes into focus, exemplifying the campaign's "Never stop. Never settle" tagline.
Shorter 30- and 15-second cuts of the film are narrated by musician Nas, who was the subject of a previous spot in the campaign, as were the father and son explorer duo Auguste and Jacques Piccard. The integrated effort from Droga5 also includes a cycling-inspired fashion collection by Kerby Jean-Raymond of Pyer Moss, a sculpture by Kadir Nelson and an ESPN documentary featuring BMX star Nigel Sylvester and cyclist Ayesha McGowan.