Hennessy spotlights a forgotten African-American cycling pioneer

Marshall "Major" Taylor gets a well-deserved remembrance in latest 'Wild Rabbit' spot

By I-Hsien Sherwood. Published on Apr 16, 2018

Editor's Pick

In 1899, Marshall "Major" Taylor became the first African-American to win a world championship in cycling. Largely forgotten for decades, the sports pioneer is now memorialized in a new spot for Hennessey cognac, the latest in the spirit brand's long-running "Wild Rabbit" campaign.

A 90-second short film directed by Derek Cianfrance--best known for the Ryan Gosling vehicle "Blue Valentine"--finds Taylor on the track of a velodrome, legs pumping furiously as he zips past competitors with preternatural speed. As he nears the end of the race, his true opponent--Taylor himself--finally comes into focus, exemplifying the campaign's "Never stop. Never settle" tagline.

Shorter 30- and 15-second cuts of the film are narrated by musician Nas, who was the subject of a previous spot in the campaign, as were the father and son explorer duo Auguste and Jacques Piccard. The integrated effort from Droga5 also includes a cycling-inspired fashion collection by Kerby Jean-Raymond of Pyer Moss, a sculpture by Kadir Nelson and an ESPN documentary featuring BMX star Nigel Sylvester and cyclist Ayesha McGowan.

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Apr 16, 2018
Droga5 New York
David Droga
Creative Partner:
Duncan Marshall
Executive Creative Director:
Alexander Nowak
Senior Copywriter:
Phil Hadad
Senior Art Director:
Marybeth Ledesma
Group Design Director:
Rich Greco
Junior Designer:
Alison Lee
Junior Technologist:
Chloe Karayiannis
Global Chief Strategy Officer:
Jonny Bauer
Group Director, Strategy:
Ramon Jimenez
Director, Strategy:
Ben Brown
Midori McSwain
Head of Communications Strategy:
Colleen Leddy
Communications Strategy Director:
Delphine McKinley
Communications Strategist:
Mariel Milner
Chief Creative Officer:
Sally-Ann Dale
Co-Director, Film Production:
Jesse Brihn
Co-Director, Film Production:
Bryan Litman
Associate Director, Film Production:
Ruben Mercadal
Film Associate Producer:
Sasha Pace
Music Supervisor:
Mike Ladman
Music Supervisor:
Jonathan Hecht
Co-Director, Interactive Production:
Justin Durazzo
Producer, Interactive:
Alyssa Cashman
Director, Art Production:
Cliff Lewis
Associate Art Director:
Bianca Escobar
Producer, Art:
Frannie Schultz
Director, Print Services:
Rob Lugo
Print Producer:
Rose Mahan
Group Account Director:
Lindsay Cole
Account Director:
Katie Lancaster
Account Manager:
Jake Stopper
Associate Account Manager:
Kevin Lee
Business Affairs Director:
Jocelyn Howard
Senior Business Affairs Managers:
Marcelle Gruman
Senior Business Affairs Managers:
Ann Marie Turbitt
Associate Counsel:
Erica Palaia
Project Manager:
Hillary Jordan
Project Manager:
Kristin Robinson
Senior Vice President, Hennessy, Moët Hennessy USA:
Giles Woodyer
Hennessy Global Chief Marketing Officer:
Thomas Moradpour
Brand Director:
Marion Daunizeau
Global Vice President, Marketing:
Amanda Hawk
Brand Manager:
Ryan Chappell
Hennessy Trade Marketing Director:
Rachel Li
Production Company:
Radical Media
Derek Cianfrance
Director, Photography:
Roman Vasyanov
Executive Producer:
Jim Bouvet
Tommy Turtle
Production Designer:
Ged Clarke
Costume Designer:
Zelda Sellars
1st Assistant Director:
Dennis Sonin
2nd Assistant Director:
Mariko Atamanenko
Executive Producer:
Darko Skulsky
Head of Production:
Sasha Bevka
Key Visual Photographer:
Jack Davison
The Quarry
Wax NY
Paul Watts
Assistant Editor:
Drew Balke
Additional Assistant Editor:
Audrey Weiner
Additional Assistant Editor:
Jim Robinson
Executive Producer:
Toni Lipari
Executive Producer:
Tor Adams
Annabelle Cuthbert
Charlie Morris
Post Production:
The Mill
Executive Producer:
Melanie Wickham
Senior Producer:
Freya Hewett
Production Coordinator:
Mia Lalanne
Shoot Supervisor:
Gavin Wellsman
Shoot Supervisor:
David Fleet
Creative Director:
Gavin Wellsman
Creative Director:
David Fleet
2D Lead Artist:
Christoph Schroer
3D Lead Artist:
Jasper Kidd
Company 3
Tom Poole
Colorist Assistant:
Jenny Montgomery
Alexandra Lubrano
Supporting Production Company:
Second Child
Paul McGeiver
Senior Retoucher:
John Ciambriello
Senior Retoucher:
Mike Vorrasi
Senior Retoucher:
John Clendenen
Michael Mockler
Woodwork Music
Philip Kay
Andy Oskwarek
Sam Phillips
Haxan Cloak
Song Title:
Hounfour Temple
Sound Design:
Q Department
Sonic Union
Sound Mixer:
David Pappa
Marshall 'Major' Taylor Estate Research:
Nickerson Research
Production Company:
BTS Film
Alex Stratienko
Brian Lannin

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