Adweek’s best ad of 2016 pulled a remarkable disappearing act, taking one of the world’s most famous athletes and dramatizing his solitude, his pain and his sacrifice away from the spotlight. And it did so with a haunting beauty that wrapped the hardship in romance, illuminating the athlete’s love of a sport whose cruelties have also brought fame, fortune and 28 Olympic medals.

According to Adweek”

“(Baltimore-based) Under Armour’s brief to Droga5 in late 2015 was simple: Explore the rigors of training through the lens of Michael Phelps ahead of his final Olympics in Rio. The finished spot was astonishing, using darkness to paradoxically shed new light on one of the planet’s biggest stars—and the physical and psychological cost of dedicating one’s life to swimming.”

The backbone of the ad is a dreamlike, recurring shot of him swimming down an illuminated lane, with darkness on both sides—the camera receding in successive shots, leaving Phelps crawling along endlessly in the water.

You can  check out the full Adweek story here.

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