- SK-II, a skincare brand owned by Procter & Gamble, announced its first branded animated series. "VS" — an SK-II STUDIO Animated Series depicts six Olympic athletes overcoming different forms of adversity, but reimagined in epic fantasy and sci-fi settings.
- The series is part of SK-II's recently launched #NoCompetition platform that looks to dispel toxic competition between women regarding their looks and instead focus on positivity. It arrives ahead of the 2020 Summer Olympics slated to start in July, which SK-II is a sponsor of.
- SK-II debuted the "VS" series concept with a Times Square takeover highlighting the story of Simone Biles. In a teaser for Biles' short film that played across 41 billboards, a digital recreation of the gold medal gymnast battled a giant troll made up of hateful online comments and tweets centered on her looks and athletic performance.
SK-II is assembling a high-production content marketing play to link its brand closer to the anticipated Summer Olympics in Tokyo. The premium P&G label is pulling from aspects of Japanese culture, including manga and anime, to inform the aesthetic of "VS," which blends together CGI and live action components and references multiple film genres.
From a messaging perspective, the series aligns with P&G's pushes toward purposeful marketing, particularly regarding women's empowerment in sports and the workplace. Secret, the CPG giant's line of antiperspirant for women, recently ramped up calls for equal pay for female athletes, most vocally around its sponsorship of the U.S. women's national soccer team that won the World Cup last summer.
SK-II introduced #NoCompetition at the 2020 Makers Conference in February, an event focused on accelerating women's fight for equality. The marketer worked with WPP's new agency division Black Ops to develop both the "VS" series and larger "Beauty is #NoCompetition" campaign. WPP's bespoke startup unit that pulls together talent from across the ad-holding group and outside partners helped to define SK-II's 2020 Olympic sponsorship in 48 hours, MediaPost reported.
Other athletes profiled as part of the "VS" series include swimmer Liu Xiang; table tennis player Ishikawa Kasumi; badminton pair Ayaka Takahashi and Misaki Matsutomo; surfer Mahina Maeda; and the Hinotori Nippon, Japan's women's national volleyball team. Each of their stories centers on overcoming challenges, from image obsession to performance pressure, that are metaphorically embodied by different "kaiju," which means "strange beast" in Japanese but references a larger film genre made globally popular by franchises like "Godzilla."
The global launch for "VS" will be revealed at a later date, per a press release, and a teaser video indicates additional content will be released on April 6. The announcement comes as anxieties around the Olympics and larger events space start to snowball.
Olympics broadcaster NBC said in a press statement this week that it secured a record $1.25 billion in ad sales ahead of the Tokyo games. However, concerns that the outbreak of a novel coronavirus could affect the games, or even lead to a full cancellation, has some advertisers increasingly worried that they could lose millions on sponsorships, endorsements and ad campaigns, The New York Times reported.