Epic Under Armour Spot Featuring with Michael Phelps Wins ‘Ad of the Year’

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Courtesy Under Armour/YouTube

Under Armour and Michael Phelps pack quite a punch when they work together. Yesterday, advertising publication Adweek announced that sports brand’s 90-second “Rule Yourself” ad centered around Phelps’ training regimen took home its top honor as “Ad of the Year.”

Under Armour collaborated with New York-based global ad agency Droga5 to produce the spot. According to Adweek, Under Armour sought out the agency’s help in 2015, asking them to “explore the rigors of training through the lens of Michael Phelps ahead of his final Olympics in Rio.”

The result was a powerful, dark and exhilarating look at Phelps’ training regimen. Set to The Kills’ “The Last Goodbye” with a waltz-like tempo, the ad shows the swimmer working out with the utmost intensity, shoveling down food, resting, swimming until he throws up and shivering outside the pool, all to train for his now-legendary final Olympic run in Rio.

As Droga5’s senior creative team told Adweek, the spot “tells the psychological side” of Phelps’ hard work.

The spot was part of a larger series by Under Armour featuring Olympic athletes training for Rio. The one centering on Phelps first premiered in March, but resurfaced on TV during the summer as the Olympics kicked off, according to Adweek. It was enough to not only boost fan appeal for Under Armour and Phelps ahead of the Olympics, but also earn some glory for Droga5, which took top honors at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity for the work.

Phelps and his wife were moved to tears upon seeing the finished product last winter at Under Armour’s headquarters here in Baltimore.

“Rule Yourself” beat out nine other advertisements that made Adweek’s list of “Best Ads of the Year.” Here’s the full spot:

Ethan McLeod
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Ethan McLeod

Senior Editor at Baltimore Fishbowl
Ethan has been editing and reporting for Baltimore Fishbowl since fall of 2016. His previous stops include Fox 45, CQ Researcher and Connection Newspapers in Northern Virginia. His freelance writing has been featured in Baltimore City Paper, Leafly, DCist and BmoreArt, among other outlets. He enjoys basketball, humid Mid-Atlantic summers and story tips.
Ethan McLeod
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