In a new Under Armour video ad released Wednesday, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton races through a dark forest, dodging tree roots and other obstructions, evading the growls of mysterious creatures and felling massive tree trunks along the way.
The ad, mostly designed by Newton himself, is part of a multi-sport advertising campaign called “It Comes From Below,” which highlights the importance of deft footwork. The quarterback has had an endorsement contract since 2011 with Baltimore-based Under Armour, which sells sports clothing, shoes and other gear.
The campaign first came out in July with an ad featuring reigning National League MVP Bryce Harper, told through the voice of his high school coach.
Newton’s spot is set to a voice-over of his mother, Jackie, quoting “Watership Down,” a British novel about the adventures of a group of rabbits trying to establish a new home after theirs is destroyed.
“All the world will be your enemy, prince with a thousand enemies, and whenever they catch you ... But first they must catch you, digger, listener, runner, prince with the swift warning. Be cunning and full of tricks,” Newton’s mother recites as the quarterback darts through the trees.
“Prince with a thousand enemies, never be destroyed,” the ad concludes as Newton emerges from the forest to his destination, an open road.
Newton was heavily involved in the ad’s creative direction, according to Adrienne Lofton, Under Armour’s senior vice president of global brand marketing. He choreographed the run through the woods, for example, and picked out the clothes he wore.
Newton started talking to the Under Armour team about the campaign back in March, weeks after the Panthers’ loss to the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50.
“From the very first meeting of concept creation, Cam wanted to ensure we brought to life how he feels – he wanted to show the hard work, the dedication and the sheer weight he sometimes feels sitting on his shoulders to be successful for both himself and his team,” Lofton said.
“When we thought about those challenges – the naysayers, the doubters, the challenges he’s seen and will see – the book, ‘Watership Down,’ came to mind.”
The quotes in the ad elicit the work ethic Newton, the reigning NFL MVP, has said he strives for as a quarterback and leader.
“I’m really willing to do anything to win a football game. Running, throwing, blocking, catching, distracting. Anything.” Newton said in a recent video posted on The Players’ Tribune.
Under Armour launched the campaign on traditional and digital channels, using social media sites like YouTube, Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to distribute it.
“‘It Comes From Below’ shines a light on a universal truth in sports – that each and every great sporting moment is driven by the power of strong footwork,” Lofton said in a statement when the campaign launched.