A German film student has been propelled to viral fame thanks to a powerful ad he created for Adidas as part of a class project.
Fourth-year creative communications student Eugen Merher created the minute-and-a-half film in January last year, but since it was put live on YouTube and Vimeo last month it has been quietly stacking up views and shares online, reaching a crescendo this week.
Dubbed 'Break Free' the emotive spot, which can be viewed in full above, tells the story of a retired marathon runner who lives in a home for elderly. After discovering his old Adidas training shoes he gets a new lease of life, but they are quickly confiscated by the nursing home staff. His fellow seniors are swift to act, however, helping him jailbreak the sneakers back leading to an ending which has left many viewers cheering at their computers.
While the brand has failed to publicly react to the spot, it has so far clocked up over four million views on YouTube, sitting on the video platform's Trending list. It has also provoked reaction online from the likes of Forbes and the Huffington Post, the latter of which urged Adidas to run it.
Merher, who studies at film academy Baden-Württemberg, told Adweek that he had sent the campaign to Adidas last year and the team there said it couldn't support the work as it gets many such requests. The sports giant already has a roster of international creative agencies.
Merher added that he drew his inspiration for the film came from a German feature film called Sein letztes Rennen (His Last Race), as well as from a distant relative who passed away last year.
"He was an old man with a very young spirit who used to walk two kilometers every day and bring his wife flowers, was very up on the news and loved to watch basketball. I combined him with the idea that running or playing sports makes you feel free, because that's what I've always thought," he mused.
The buzz around the video follows on from a similar project from UK student last year which gained traction online after people believed it was retailer John Lewis' Christmas campaign. The student behind the work was rewarded for his efforts with a job offer from PR agency W Communications.