Introducing our new work for one of the world’s greatest athletic brands.

I have had many great opportunities throughout my career. The kind of opportunities most people who work in advertising never get. I’ve never taken any of it for granted. But when I started my own advertising agency, I wondered if I would be able to create the same kind of opportunities for my own agency. Or if we would spend most of our time creating coupons for gerbil food and pro bono flyers for Book-A-Roo at my kid’s school.

Today I am thrilled to say The Weaponry, my advertising and idea agency, has worked with an American president (Jimmy Carter), an innovative sport aircraft brand (Icon Aircraft) and the people who rescue climbers on Mt. Everest (Global Rescue). We’ve worked with fun brands from Quebec (SeaDoo, BRP, Prevost & Volvo Bus) to California (Sunrun). And since 2016 we have worked with the international sporting goods powerhouse, Mizuno.

Mizuno

Mizuno is a Japanese sports equipment and sportswear company. It was founded in Osaka in 1906 by Rihachi Mizuno (who is on my all-name team, along with my college buddy, Azree Commander). Today, Mizuno is a major player in baseball, softball and volleyball around the world.

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Adam ‘Henry’ Emery clubbing every minute of our recent shoot.

If you are a serious golfer you know that Mizuno makes the best irons in the business. Mizuno makes the best racing suit for competitive swimmers. They also make amazing running shoes. Including my favorites, the Wave Riders. I currently have them in Badger Red and Anatomy Gray. (Ok, maybe I just made up those color names.)

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Guys from The Weaponry and swimmer Blake Pieroni.

Reach Beyond

In the fall of 2018 The Weaponry began work on a really fun new project for Mizuno North America. Mizuno had already introduced their new Reach Beyond tagline internationally. But they wanted our help to determine how the theme should be adapted for the US Market.

Exploring Like Dora

We explored a broad range of options for Mizuno. We shared 7 different campaign angles. Each direction brought the brand message to life in its own unique way. In the creative process we always explore a wide variety of looks, language and tones. It’s a hallmark of The Weaponry Way. Which is why clients turn to us when they want a fresh new perspective and a variety of creative options.

Beyond Training

There was one brand direction that Mizuno especially liked. It was not about winning and losing. Or being the best in the world. It was about the training you do to compete with yourself. We call it Beyond Training.

This commercial features Olympic swimmer Blake Pieroni. And a lot of bubbles.

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Here’s a look at some of the outdoor billboards you may see this year.

Beyond Training is about putting in the work to set new personal records. It is about you reaching beyond your own previous bests. I think this is the greatest mission in life. And one of the greatest elements, if not the greatest element of sports.

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Push Yourself

We believe that Reaching Beyond is about continuously pushing yourself to see just how much you are capable of. I love that this idea accommodates for athletes at all stages of life. It allows us all to frame our best in whatever way is most relevant and most motivating today. As an athlete in my 40s I am encouraged to reach beyond the best I have done this year, or this decade. That idea is exciting to me, and keeps me pushing myself.

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Self Improvement

We found that athletes are good at creating a relevant frame of reference for self improvement. This is true whether you are a world class swimmer at the top of your game, a 70-year old golfer who wants to be the very best they can be this year, or a 7th grade track athlete just getting started. The key is to continuously work to better yourself. And that is the spirit the Mizuno Reach Beyond brand campaign captures.

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If you went to The Masters you may have seen this billboard along the way.
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Cant you spot the golf tee in this pic? (hint: it’s above the space between ‘is’ and ‘your’)

The Goods

We have created a series of brand commercials that will run both online and on TV. We have also created a billboard campaign that we will roll out throughout this year.

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The Athletes

We worked with Olympic gold medal swimmer Blake Pieroni in Atlanta. We filmed professional baseball player Austin Riley at the Atlanta Braves spring training facility in Orlando. We filmed runners Ali Ritter and Alexa Crow, on urban trails in Atlanta before dawn. And we shot golfers Jackson Kemper and Todd Ormsby at a driving range at night, in the rain. (Sorry guys.)

One of several commercials that are part of the Mizuno brand campaign. This one features pro baseball player Austin Riley. 

The Photographer

To create this work we hired a phenomenal Milwaukee-based photographer, Lucian McAfee. He’s a great shooter. But more importantly, he is a really fun and nice guy. Fun fact, Lucian’s brother Jesse was a track teammate of mine at the University of Wisconsin. Go Badgers!

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Lucian and Blake, each bringing it the best they can.

The Production Company

We worked with Proper Medium out of Atlanta for all of the video. We have worked with this team on great projects for UPS, Fifth Third Bank, and Global Rescue, and they always hit it out of the park. Unless we are shooting swimmers. In which case they hit it out of the pool. Proper Medium and Lucian are both really great at what they do. Plus they worked really well together. Like peas and carrots.

This spot tells you why should not reach your potential.

The Great Clients!

Big thanks to our clients Harper Cornell and Tomohiro Ota at Mizuno for leading this work and letting us collaborate with them. Thanks to Shelby Novak and to Clint Sammons at Mizuno for all your help pulling off the swimming and baseball shoots.

I am extremely thankful to The Weapons that worked on this project, including Adam Emery, Kevin Kayse, Jeanne Mayer, and Tony Sharpe. You guys crush things.

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Austin Riley with agents Bryan Figueroa (in pink) and Brian Hannaford (also in pink), looking sick! (In a good way.)

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Key Takeaway

Self improvement is about reaching beyond your previous best. It’s what we should strive for ever day. Whether we are Olympians, office workers or stay at home Moms, we can all get better at what we do. Reaching beyond your previous best in any endeavor is more meaningful and more rewarding than winning. Because it is all about your journey and your personal performance. Reaching Beyond is what I am trying to do in my career and my athletics. I hope you are too. Because as Eminem said, ‘You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow. This opportunity comes once in a lifetime.’

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Introducing the amazing shoes that help fight breast cancer.

I will never forget a phone call I received from my wife in 2001. I picked up the phone, and without any other greetings Dawn said, ‘My Mom has breast cancer.’ Those unexpected and unwelcomed words landed with more weight than any others I have ever heard telephonically. With that phone call I joined the not-so-exclusive club of people whose family’s have been invaded by breast cancer.

A Better Call

Fast forward to the spring of 2018. I got a call from my friend Harper Cornell at Mizuno. Harper shared that she was leading the marketing efforts for an exciting Mizuno initiative called Project Zero. Mizuno was partnering with Fleet Feet Stores across the country to raise money to support the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF). Harper and her team were looking for a partner to work with to promote Project Zero. I jumped* at the chance to get involved. (*There was actually no physically jumping. But I definitely jumped in all the non-physical ways.)

Planning

Over the next couple of months our team at The Weaponry created logos, themes, scripts, videos, point of purchase displays and a brand style guide for the effort. We thought through budgets, logistics and calendars. We researched and explored great stories we could tell about runners who had been impacted by breast cancer. Then we brought it all to life.

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Kristyn ‘K-Lil’ Lilley and Sonia. K-Lil lead our design work, and directed interviews. Because she rocks. Sonia is an amazing advocate for other women dealing with breast cancer.

Filming

In August we traveled to Houston to work with Jennie Finch, the Olympic Gold Medal softball player, and Mizuno athlete. We spent a day at the Fleet Feet store filming a series of videos with Jennie promoting Project Zero. She was great to work with and a passionate supporter of the cause. I’m also thankful that she never balked or threw anything at me when I asked her for a long list of alternate takes.

Then we traveled to Atlanta to film four inspiring women who have battled with breast cancer, and six strong breast cancer supporters who have helped friends, mothers and wives through their fight with this menacing disease.

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We filmed in Houston, Texas. Which is where my sisters Donielle and Alison, and my nieces Norah and Celia live. So they were able to stop by while we were shooting.

Here Is The Deal

What Mizuno is doing with Project Zero is remarkable. If you buy a pair of special edition BCRF WaveKnit running shoes, Mizuno will donate $10 from your purchase directly to the BCRF, the largest nonprofit funder of Breast Cancer research in the world.

Simple and startling facts about breast cancer:

  • 1 in 8 women around the world will be impacted by breast cancer in her lifetime.
  • 45,000 women in the US and Canada are expected to die of breast cancer this year.
  • There are 3,850,000 breast cancer survivors in the US and Canada today.

The key to turning 1-in-8 women into 0-in-8 is research. That’s why the Breast Cancer Research Foundation is so important.

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Harper and Yolaine and I after wrapping. Not rapping.

Impressive Facts About The BCRF.

  • It is the largest nonprofit funder of breast cancer research in the world.
  • They fund 275 scientist
  • They fund research in 15 countries on 6 continents
  • They help explore causes, new treatments, prevention and early diagnosis
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Sorita is amazing. She owns a Fleet Feet Store in Reading, PA. She not only crushed breast cancer, she crushes triathlons too.

I am extremely proud that our team was able to contribute to such an important cause. Thanks to Jeanne Mayer, Kristyn Lilley, Matt Ackley, Kevin Kayse and Tony Sharpe for all of your hard work.

Here is a look at a couple of the 11 videos we created to support the cause.

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Gretchen and her family are truly inspiring. I was just happy to be in their world.

Key Takeaway

If you could use a great new pair of stylish running shoes, please consider stopping by a Fleet Feet store during October, or going to MizunoUSARunning.com. By the way, today my Mother In Law, Cynthia Zabel, is doing great, 17 years after that initial phone call.

Go Cynthia!

3 amazing things our team did in one exciting weekend.

A few years ago I was having a serious conversation about my career with a close friend. I was talking about a job opportunity I was contemplating that would involve me and my family moving to one of the major cities in the United States. Chad, my son Magnus’ Godfather, asked why I was considering such a move and the impact it was likely to have on our family’s quality of life. Not to mention the impact it would have on the Christmas Eve tradition our families enjoyed together.

I told Chad that I was curious to know what my career might hold if I was in a major market. Chad took a long pause. And then he said slowly, in words I could easily understand,

I don’t think your career has ever been limited by your location.

Chad was right. My career has been full of interesting opportunities and adventures that have outsized the markets that I have lived and worked in. But without Chad’s comment I may not have recognized that myself.

I was reminded of Chad’s statement last week because my advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry, had a particularly interesting weekend. Here are the 3 big things that happened.

#1   Two of our Weapons flew to the other side of the planet to film a video about an impressive business in Bangalore, India. It was a trip that helped alter my world-perspective.  I met amazing people, saw incredible sights and ate incredible food. And, now that I’ve seen the first rough cut, I can say I helped capture a really great video.

#2    A team of our Weapons were working with a former President of The United States. We sent a crew to the Plains Peanut Festival in Plains, Georgia. A major part of what our team did in Plains was work with President Jimmy Carter. Our team filmed President Carter, photographed him and his family and friends at various activities that weekend. Our team also wrote The Peanut Proclamation, on behalf of The Peanut Institute, which president Carter signed. Working with President Carter was a pretty great consolation prize for our team members who didn’t get to go to India. A trip to India was a good consolation prize for those who didn’t get to work with President Carter.

#3   At the same time as the international travel and the Presidential peanut-ing, our team was launching a new campaign for the sporting gear brand Mizuno, and their support of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation during Breast Cancer Awareness month.

The work we created included 11 videos, which featured Olympic Gold Medalist Jennie Finch. Jennie is not only the face of American softball, and a business woman, she is a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model, a contestant on the most recent season of Dancing With The Stars, and a wonderful human being. The videos also included profiles of 4 women who have been battling breast cancer, and 2 women whose mothers have battled breast cancer and won.

Key Takeaway

This was not a bad weekend for an advertising and idea agency headquartered in Milwaukee. That’s because we refuse to be limited by our geography. What I have found over and over again is that if you do great work, are great to work with, and live up to your commitments, great work will keep coming your way.  So don’t think you need to live in the largest, most crowded, most expensive, most traffic-infested cities in the world to do great things. You just have to do great things, and the opportunities will find you.