DUCK Creates 12 Animated Sports for U.S. Olympic Committee

DUCK, long known for its robust and versatile directorial roster, brought the full force of 10 of its best to bear on a monster 12-spot campaign for the United States Olympic Committee via Y&R. Each of the animated spots, which tell the story of one US Olympic athlete and the special relationships that helped them rise to the pinnacle of their sport, features a unique aesthetic and animated style.

“Y&R came to DUCK because they knew we were one of the few studios out there that could fulfill their request to make 12 thematically similar spots that each had a very different look and feel,” noted DUCK EP Mark Medernach. “This is a massively important project that really shows off the incredible depth of talent that we’ve amassed at DUCK. The variety and quality of the work is breathtaking.”

The basket of spots, drum up awareness for the USOC’s “The Team Behind the Team” campaign, which encourages people to support US athletes with donations. Brief previews of four of these compelling spots, which range in length, and a word with each of their directors, is below:

Henry Cejudo by Hsinping Pan:

Inspired by US freestyle wrestler Henry Cejudo’s recollections of his fearless mother, Hsinping Pan creates a warm and colorful animated world to showcase the athlete’s mom’s devotion. Grounded in a warm palette of oranges and pink, Pan creates a detail-packed landscape that weaves from Cejudo’s mother’s entrance into the US 30 years ago to her 20-hour journey through a snowstorm to watch her son compete in the state tournament.

Pan packs the story with symbolic details, such as the family matriarch’s arms transforming into tree branches and rising skyward to protect her seven children from a thunderstorm. “The first image that came to my mind when I heard this story is of Henry’s mom standing like a big tree to protect and support her family,” said Pan. “It’s really touching that she overcame so many difficulties and gave her family the best she could. The bond between Henry and his mom is very strong and inspiring.”

Queen Underwood by Chris Harding:

When Queen Underwood was working her way up through the women’s boxing world, she could always count on her sister’s encouraging voice bellowing to her at ringside, inspiring one knockout after another. Chris Harding delivers Underwood’s story in an engaging stick-figure animated sequence replete with typography and enlivened with a textured, paint-like color scheme.

“For someone involved in a fighting sport, Queen’s story had a surprisingly gentle tone,” noted Harding. “Queen is an extremely powerful athlete, but the way she talked about her sister struck me as loving, grateful and familiar. I chose the colors and simple line drawings to enhance the overall tone of her story. I also tried to choose something that fit the clarity and innocence of this aspect of their relationship.”

Bershawn Jackson by Roger Chouinard:

Bershawn Jackson took bronze in the 400-meter hurdles in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but his real dream is for his hardworking grandmother to see him compete. Roger Chouinard tells Jackson’s heartwarming story in a delightfully animated spot. With a series of vibrantly lit panels, the director takes us on a journey of Jackson’s epic comeback in the race and the importance of his grandmother’s support along the way.

“I could personally relate to his story because I had a grandmother who was very influential in my life when I was growing up,” Chouinard stated. “I’ve developed this film style for editorial and book illustration, and I thought it would convey the warmth, humor and human heart of Bershawn’s story.”

John Orozco by SMOG:

John Orozco couldn’t stop as a kid, erupting across park playgrounds and household furniture in an endless sequence of flips and bounces and jumps. So when his sanitation worker father found a flier seeking aspiring gymnasts while on his rounds in Manhattan, he took his young prodigy to a strict coach who guided him all the way to the Olympics. SMOG conveys this story in a primarily red, white and blue animation heavy on geometric angles and typography that reinforces key inspirational words and messages.

“John’s story really sounds like a fable, so we wanted to tell it in a simple way,” stated SMOG. “We also wanted a slightly different feel for his father’s story and his coach’s, as they each have different roles – the father is a big protector and believes in him, while the coach is his partner and fights beside him. Each character has a different angle for John, so they had to look different in the animation while still being connected to get the whole picture.”