Powerade is focusing on athletes’ mental as well as physical health in a new global campaign that stars U.S. Olympic gymnast Simone Biles and highlights that “pause is power.”
A new spot from the Coca-Cola-owned beverage brand, which debuted last night during the NCAA March Madness Selection Sunday program, features a cast of high-profile athletes and sports figures alongside Biles. They include Premier League soccer coach and Tottenham Hotspur manager Antonio Conte, Great Britain Olympic gold medalist diver Tom Daley and former NBA stars Chris Webber and Jason Williams.
The spot is the first work in what Powerade plans to be a multi-year platform that will celebrate the regenerative strength that can be found in a moment of pause, giving ourselves time to be “human” in contrast to a "win at all costs" mentality.
It begins with Conte telling players in a locker room that the “secret to winning is to pause.” It continues to depict various teams and athletes taking a break from normal activity. NFL players perform ballet moves in the rain; Daley, a known knitting fanatic, instructs the rest of his team in how to knit sweaters; and Biles tells a press conference she’s taking a break and then gets her nails done, telling a goat—an apparent reference to her being the G.O.A.T—that it’s important to “be human.” The spot ends with a young gymnast falling off the beam, with Biles reassuring her, “Hey, you’ll get it tomorrow.”
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The campaign is the first high-profile brand work for Biles since she pulled out of competing in most of her events at the summer Olympics to focus on her mental health. She did appear in August in a campaign for protein brand Core Power, but that campaign used existing footage. Biles' decision to pull out of Olympic events, along with tennis star Naomi Osaka pulling out of matches to focus on her mental health, has prompted a major cultural debate about the mental health of athletes.
“I’ve come to recognize the power of a pause, and ‘Pause is Power,’ the new campaign from the Powerade brand is a timely reminder to take a moment when we need it—whether for a deep breath, a timeout or even a season out”, Biles said in a statement. “We push ourselves hard physically and emotionally to achieve our dreams but if we are not our best mentally, then we are not maximizing our full potential. I want to help encourage everybody to be kinder to themselves because that’s when we’re at our strongest and we can achieve the most.”
"Behind every goal and achievement is a person who has worked hard to succeed,” added Claire Pinel, Powerade global brand director, in a statement. “Competition comes with great pressure and intensity and it’s important to remind people of the power that can be found in the simple act of a pause, allowing us to come back better and stronger."
The spot was created by Publicis agencies working together in a “Power of One” offering, drawing from creative and production teams across Publicis Italy, Publicis Mexico, Leo Burnett Chicago and Digitas NY. High-profile directing collective Traktor directed the commercial.
Although WPP won the majority of Coca-Cola work to in the brand’s global pitch at the end of the last year, both Publicis and Leo Burnett remain on its roster of creative agencies. (Powerade's previous work in recent years has come from Wieden + Kennedy, and included spots with the likes of NBA star Damian Lillard.)
“The campaign highlights some of the World’s most inspiring ambassadors for the importance of mental health,” said Bruno Bertelli, global chief creative officer at Publicis and CEO at Publicis Italy. “The sports industry is well-known for the pressure put on its athletes and players, pressure that impacts not only results, but the mental strength of individuals too. ‘Pause is Power’ is a campaign that celebrates pausing to refuel, rethink and recharge as a sign of power, not a weakness. Our aim is to raise awareness to all humans, not just professional athletes, that pausing is not losing, it’s actually winning."
Following the U.S. debut, additional countries will begin rolling out the campaign in the following weeks. The ad will be supported across all platforms including TV, digital, social media and out of home.