Adidas features Canadian hockey star (and new mom) Natalie Spooner in new ad

Who: Adidas, with SaltXC for strategy, creative, production (Salt Studios, directed by Jessica Edwards), and post-production; with Boom Box Sound for audio; and MediaCom for media.

What: A new “Impossible is Nothing” spot featuring Canadian hockey star Natalie Spooner, who, despite giving birth to a baby boy named Rory in early December, still wanted to make Team Canada for next month’s World Championships. She was named to the team earlier this month.

When & Where: The spot is running across Canada on TV, digital and social. It launched around International Women’s Day, and will run through the end of April.

Why: For IWD, Adidas wanted to highlight some of the challenges faced by women athletes, and thought that Spooner’s attempt to make it back onto Team Canada was a perfect example, said Adidas Canada vice-president of marketing Kelly Graham. “She told us about the super-condensed timeline and the goal she was setting for herself to return to training and competition after giving birth in order to rejoin the national team, and we immediately knew it was a story that had to be told.”

Spooner is one of the most accomplished and celebrated female athletes of our time, and an inspiration to millions, said Leanne Bernardo, partner and vice-president at SaltXC. “A lot of people thought that coming back to hockey so soon after becoming a new mom was impossible. Natalie disagreed.”

How: Adidas asked SaltXC to work on a film which, at a higher level, is about the challenges many female athletes face, and their determination to overcome them. “But we wanted to do that in an inspiring and positive way, because this really is a celebration of Natalie’s two loves,” said Graham. “The love that Natalie has for her new baby, as well as the love she has for the game of hockey.”

The SaltXC creative team spoke with Spooner, who has been an Adidas athlete for two years, and opted for a video diary approach, following her around for a day, in her house and at a nearby rink and training facility.

“It was critical for this story to be an accurate a reflection of Natalie’s journey back to Canada’s National Team,” said Bernardo. “That meant following a real day in her life: From an early morning with her newborn son, to a gruelling training session in a local arena, all to be back in time for Rory’s bedtime.”

In a voiceover, Spooner shares her story with baby Rory. “You don’t know this side of me yet. I’m a hockey player,” she says. “People think this type of comeback is impossible. I want to show you how important it is to chase what you love, how important it is to try. So mommy is gonna try, because she thinks impossible is a super silly idea.”

“We wanted Natalie to tell her story in her own words, because we’re confident they have the power to inspire other female athletes, women, parents and Canadians alike,” said Bernardo.

Impossible is silly: Launched in 2004, Adidas has described “Impossible is Nothing” as the essence of its brand. It has featured some of the biggest stars from the world of sports and beyond, from Muhammad Ali in the 2004 launch campaign, to David Beckham and Beyonce.

The small tweak on the iconic tagline came from SaltXC writer Andrea Marchioni, who is also a new mother.

“A lot of the ‘Impossible is Nothing’ is intense weightlifting and games and sports. And then you see the big ‘Impossible is Nothing’,” said Bernardo. This is was an ad about the intensity and passion for sports, but it was also a mother speaking to her baby.

As the Salt creative team was talking with Spooner about what she could say in the voiceover—they didn’t want it to be overly scripted, but Spooner asked for direction and suggestions—they saw her talking with Rory. In one of those moments Marchioni wrote down “Impossible is a super silly idea.” It’s simply how a mother might explain the lofty ambition of “Impossible is Nothing” in the gentle and hushed voice of a mother soothing a newborn in a nursery.

Not just for moms: This is an ad about a woman athlete and a new mom, but it was intended to connect with all genders, parents and non-parents alike, because it’s inspiring story about the passion for sports, said Graham. “Ultimately this is about her love for and dedication to her craft, as well as her desire to show the next generation that anything is possible. It’s something we can all connect with and take inspiration from.”

And we quote: “At Adidas, we see possibilities where others see the impossible, and Natalie Spooner exemplifies that brand belief. Natalie’s incredible journey back to the ice in record time after giving birth to her son really highlights the challenges that female athletes often have to overcome to play the sports they love.”—Kelly Graham, vice-president of marketing, Adidas Canada

David Brown