After a painful loss, Ronda Rousey embraces her imperfection in Reebok campaign

A brand striving to connect with women sees an opportunity in athlete's public failure

It has been six months since mixed martial artist and actress Ronda Rousey was knocked out by Holly Holm in a UFC fight, losing her title and sustaining serious injuries. 

Rousey may not be heading into the ring anytime soon, but she’s making her own kind of comeback in a new commercial for Reebok.

Launched on Tuesday, the 44-second spot doesn’t highlight her strengths but rather her imperfections as dictated by society. The ad, which will run online and in social media with the hashtag #PerfectNever, represents the latest chapter in Reebok’s "Be More Human" campaign. Created by Venables Bell & Partners, the work aims to connect with women through the message that nobody is perfect, including professional athletes. 

"We live in a world where athletes are more than often portrayed as superhuman," said Reebok CMO Yan Martin. "What makes them special and what makes them unique is the fact that they are imperfect and they have their own ways to overcome their adversity."

"Perfection doesn’t really exist," he continued. "At the end of the day, perfection is constant pursuit of improving yourself in all aspects of your life."

Martin said that Rousey makes the ideal spokesman for the brand because she embodies a healthy lifestyle both in and outside, the ring. As Reebok strives to regain the prominence it enjoyed in the 1980s, it has focused largely on appealing to everyday consumers with fitness aspirations rather than hardcore athletes. "A lot of brands talk about fitness in the context of being better athletes, competing better, running faster, jumping further, but we actually believe that the benefits of a fitness lifestyle extends beyond that — it makes you a better person," he said. 

And the loss that Rousey experienced last December only contributes to her status as a good female role model, Martin said.

"The fight amplified that aspect of her personality, which is being able to face a challenge and stay fit and rise from it and continue to want to better herself," he said.

"In a way, Ronda’s loss made her even more compelling," said Will McGinness, executive creative director at Venables Bell & Partners, in a statement. "And more relatable."

The spot starts off with Rousey, dressed as a starlet, being filmed by a phalanx of cameras in front of a backdrop of a sunset. When the lights go off, so do Rousey’s fake eyelashes, hair extensions and lipstick. She then appears in her boxing attire staring intently into the camera.

"Perfect never gets tested, perfect never gets to silence its critics, perfect never gets a shot at redemption. So yeah, I’m fine not being perfect," she says in a voiceover.

"There are a lot of unrealistic standards being put on everyone," said Rousey in a statement, "I think it’s good to have examples out there who say, ‘You know what, not everyone is always going to like you, but life will go on, you’ll be ok and you can still love yourself.’ "  

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