Got chocolate milk? Olympic swimmers do

Campbell Ewald spot showcases bodies built from protein-packed drink

With the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro fast approaching, the parade of ads featuring Olympic athletes is beginning to roll out. Some sponsors, like Under Armour, are self-explanatory, but two elite American swimmers will appear in spots from agency Campbell Ewald for a product not readily associated with Olympians — chocolate milk.

Jessica Hardy and Tyler Clary, both Olympic gold medalists who will swim for Team USA in this year’s games, make their training laps while floating through the air rather than supported by water, before drinking a bottle of low-fat chocolate milk.

"The protein rebuilds lean muscle. That’s what led us to this whole concept," said Ronald Wachino, SVP and group creative director at Campbell Ewald. "As a consumer, you want to see the lean muscle that’s been rebuilt. The problem with swimmers is when you’re in water, there are either waves or bubbles obscuring your body. So we said, ‘Can we do a commercial where swimmers are swimming waterless?’ " 

Director Raymond Bark from production company Gartner suspended Hardy and Clary with a combination of rigging and platforms — removed in post-production — while they went through their usual motions. "It’s not easy, because in some cases they had to support their body just with their muscles," Wachino said. "You’ve got to remember, when a swimmer is swimming, they’ve got water to support their body." The supports were removed in post-production by Method New York.

The Milk Processor Education Program began focusing on protein in 2014, and chocolate milk has been touted as an ideal drink for athletes for the last several years. It’s popular with many members of the L.A. Lakers.

"It’s got the perfect ratio of carbs to protein, and it’s natural. No other recovery drink can say that," Wachino said. "It’s core to how our product differentiates itself from Gatorade."

The television ad debuts March 27 and runs in 30-second and 15-second versions through the summer. Previous spots in the campaign include ads featuring Ironman triathlete Craig "Crowie" Alexander and Cleveland Cavaliers basketball player Kevin Love.

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