Mumbai: It’s yet another sports ad, selling a pair of branded shoes. But it is unlike any other. For, the new ad for Adidas ‘Odds’ is all about stark realism. It’s also about a pair of shoes—two lefts or two rights, for athletes with one foot.
The campaign, created by Taproot Dentsu India communication Pvt. Ltd, is about Major D.P. Singh, a Kargil war veteran who was given up for dead on the battlefield.
He lost his leg, but not his determination to start walking again.
The film talks about his journey as India’s first blade-runner, and one of the first Indians to run a marathon with an artificial limb.
“Odd, isn’t it? For a man to run, when technically he shouldn’t even be walking. To compete in a marathon on one leg, when really, he should be sitting at home and watching it…..,” says the narrator, as images of Major Singh, running, training hard, his body scarred with shrapnel, fill the screen.
“He has evened out the odds. The question is, have we?” says the inspiring ad, posing a poignant question to viewers on whether we they willing to see differently-abled people as capable. The ad also serves as a reminder that instead of being bound by what’s lost, we must strive to achieve greatness with what’s left, said a statement from the agency.
The Adidas film was shot in Gurgaon, at real locations, whether it was Major Singh’s home or the places he practices in. “We wanted this to be as real as possible, and that is the charm of this film. Advertising tends to gloss over things, it’s (sports advertising) hyper colourful, often crazy, and has a lot of things going on. We didn’t want to go down that route… we wanted this film to be real, yet cinematic,” said filmmaker Veneet Raj Bagga, who shot the ad film like a mini biopic.
As a part of his preparation, Bagga spent close to two weeks with Singh, accompanying him on runs at 4.30am, spending the day with him listening to his story, going through old photographs, going swimming with him. “It was important for me to get sensitized to his story, he’s been through so much.”
The film captures Major Singh’s life and his passion for running. “Losing a part of the body does not lead to disability. Losing the will to fight out odds, does. Celebrate odds and be the winner. If you wish to give up anything, give up giving up. That’s the message I wish to give everyone,” said Major Singh, who set up a support group for amputees after his first blade run in 2011.
“Apart from celebrating this courageous community, where almost every para-athlete has an inspiring story to share, this campaign seeks to lead a change in consumer behaviour. Being a marathon runner myself, I felt that a film on Major D.P. Singh’s life, would definitely motivate common people to get into some form of sport or physical activity. So our intention was to get this dual messaging through with this single campaign” said Santosh Padhi, chief creative officer, Taproot Dentsu India, the agency that came up with the campaign idea and initiative.
Initially, the agency wanted to do multiple films, portraying different para-athletes. However, lack of time, logistic issues related to shooting in different cities, and the fact that some of them didn’t want to be featured, changed their plan. They chose to focus on the Army man, who pushed himself through the intense shooting schedule. “It was probably his Army background and determination, that kept him going as we shot continuously over 3 days, on a 5am to 8pm schedule,” said Padhi.
“It’s a lovely thought, without a doubt. I mean which brand would ever think of two right and two left shoes. It is a tribute to human resolve. A fabulous paean to human will,” said Prathap Suthan, managing partner and chief creative officer at the agency Bang in the Middle.
“While the film builds up the spirit of the man, his gumption to overcome his struggle, and his tenacity to do what normal people can only dream about, the story of wounded flesh following the call of an unbroken soul is universal. Overall, it’s been well executed and a story well told. The triumph of man over frailty will always be celebrated, and that is just what makes the film stride over its otherwise simple narrative. As a product idea, it is a brilliant winner. Very much in sync with an old faded line of Adidas—Impossible is Nothing,” Suthan added.
This is also the first time that Adidas has come up with a product like this. “At Adidas we live a simple principle. No Athlete left behind. This philosophy is at the heart of ‘Odds by Adidas’. It is our way of encouraging and cheering Para-athletes on to achieving their best on the field of play and we hope Major D.P. Singh’s story inspires many more to live their dreams and prove that Sports has the power to change lives,” said Damyant Singh, senior marketing director, Adidas India. The initiative emerged from a simple insightful idea from Taproot Dentsu of giving para-athletes, primarily blade runners, a pair of the same side footwear they need, rather than the generic pair that is sold to consumers.