New animation for sports brand On turns triathletes into Vikings

Directed by Future Power Station (aka Yibi Hu), the Manga-style spot sees 2022 Ironman World Champion Gustav Iden and Olympic Champion Kristian Blummenfelt take part in an epic battle

The ad looks ahead to Iden and Blummenfelt’s participation in the Paris Olympics next year and depicts the renowned triathletes as epic Viking warriors – renamed as ‘Kristian the Unstoppable’ and ‘Gustav the Great’ – who will be rivals in next year’s Games.

“There was so much content out there about Kristian and Gustav, but most of it was scientific content – about their so-called Norwegian Method of training,” explains Simon Brotherson, creative director on the project. “So we said: ‘Let’s have some fun.’ Gustav and Kristian have been referred to as Vikings before – and they’re kind of fierce. So why not fully embrace that theme?”

We’ve seen athletes depicted as superheroes in ads before but the film takes Iden and Blummenfelt into truly fantastical realms as they are shown swimming through waters ruled by serpents and sirens before riding through enchanted woods as mysterious riders give chase. The final stage of the contest is then a run amid the clouds, with neither Viking refusing to relent.

The film was written by Brotherson in partnership with Hu, with the animation taking inspiration from 1990s Batman and Robin cartoons and featuring a mix of 2D animation with 3D motion capture technology.

On Vikings ad

Despite its epic themes, the writers also wanted to demonstrate the harsh realities of the sport. “We wanted to reflect a true triathlon, how athletes experience a race,” Hu recalls. “During races, the audience has a completely different experience than the athletes. From the outside, it feels calm. But for the athletes, it can be pure chaos. And when you’re racing in truly spectacular surroundings, the mountains and trees around you seem to come alive – either helping you or trying to hold you back.”

For Blummenfelt, the film captures his experiences well. “The film summarises quite well what it feels like in real life – with some exaggerations, of course,” he says. “How we have to fight these obstacles on the way. The important thing is how you’re able to deal with those and move on. It feels special to be portrayed as a Viking warrior. To be out there in the wild, no matter the conditions. That strength and rawness of Vikings is well represented.”

Creative Director: Simon Brotherson, Brother&Son
Production Company: Passion Pictures
Animation Director, Art Director, Co-Writer: Future Power Station