Hennessy Honors Forgotten Sports Hero

May 4, 2018

Now in its fifth iteration, Hennessy’s “Wild Rabbit” campaign has built upon the theme of pushing one’s own individual potential through, as seen in the stories of those extraordinary individuals whose inner drives pushed them to, as Hennessy says, “Never stop. Never settle.” This year, the campaign focuses on an unsung hero of sports, and African American icon, Marshall “Major” Taylor.

Though no longer a household name, Taylor would have been well-known to sports fans in the 1890s as the preeminent cyclist of his generation. By 1898, Taylor held seven world records, and in 1899 he became the first African American to win a cycling world championship.

Modern Campaign, Timeless Story

Today, Taylor’s spirit is carried on by our partners at Hennessy, who have built an entire campaign, and multiple digital videos, around his unquenchable thirst for competition. The campaign was developed in collaboration with long-term partner and advertising agency Droga5, who has helmed the “Wild Rabbit” series since 2012 and created the specific look and feel of this year’s campaign.

“Marshall ‘Major’ Taylor’s perseverance to achieve new levels of greatness despite adversity is universally inspiring and this is a largely untold story that we felt needed to be brought to light,” said Giles Woodyer, Senior Vice President, Hennessy U.S. “Hennessy has always been committed to celebrating important cultural moments and sharing the stories that help shape our world. We hope that this remarkable journey of an American hero will inspire others to push the limits of potential—to continue striving, to never stop. Never settle.”

Modern Legends

In addition to historical greats of the past, Hennessy is also building on Taylor’s legacy by collaborating with contemporary visionaries in a wide range of creative endeavors, such as musicians, artists, fashion designers and philanthropists, who have been moved by Marshall “Major” Taylor’s story and share his “Never stop. Never settle.” mentality:

In particular, hip-hop icon and Emmy award-winner Nas is voicing a new “Major” TV commercial.

Additionally, renowned artist, author and cycling enthusiast Kadir Nelson honored the spirit of the champion in a modern bronze sculpture titled “THE MAJOR,” a rarely seen deviation from the artist’s typical oil paintings.

The National Brotherhood of Cyclists (NBC) and Hennessy align to continue the NBC’s original mission of honoring Taylor through assisting in the development of new Major Taylor cycling clubs, education and tribute rides around Taylor’s birthday, November 26. This year would have marked his 140th birthday.

What’s Next?

To further celebrate this story, Hennessy worked alongside ESPN to share Taylor’s legacy in a powerful short-form documentary, complete with commentary from BMX rider Nigel Sylvester and road cyclist Ayesha McGowan. The film, aired April 22nd on ESPN at 3:00pm ET, inviting viewers to discover Taylor’s drive, determination, and ongoing quest to break barriers in pursuit of his dreams.

At Breakthru, we honor the drive and indomitable spirit of Marshall “Major” Taylor, one which we see reflected in our partners at Hennessy. We are proud to see Hennessy maintaining their position as the best selling Cognac in the world, much as Taylor did during his long and fruitless search for a worthy competitor.

We are also thrilled to bring you a new slate of digital selling tools from Hennessy that elevate the brand and drive home its core messaging. Call your Breakthru Sales Consultant today to find out more about how these tools can help your business grow.
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