Olympic athletes battle kaiju representing societal pressure in SK-II series

Top athletes including Simone Biles, Liu Xiang, Ishikawa Kasumi, Ayaka Takahashi and Misaki Matsutomo appear in the 'VS' series, which the brand calls an animated anthology.

Under the auspices of SK-II Studio, SK-II has released a series of six films in which female athletes face down societal pressure personified in kaiju ('strange beast') form.

The brand calls the series, entitled 'VS', not a 'campaign', but an animated anthology, and Ad Nut is willing to go along with that because the films all have their own style and are all jaw-droppingly gorgeous. The series merges live action with animation from Imaginary Forces, Passion Pictures, Platige Image and C3, and there's also original music by John Legend and Lexie Liu. The brand worked with WPP agencies led by Grey and MediaCom on the campaign. 

In the films (see the posters from left to right below):

  • Highly-decorated gymnast Simone Biles shouts down harassment from black-souled internet trolls
  • World-record swimmer Liu Xiang faces a sea monster representing the public's obsession with her looks rather than her prowess in the pool
  • Two-time table-tennis medalist Ishikawa Kasumi refuses to fall despite the immense pressure of rising to the top of her game
  • Badminton duo Ayaka Takahashi and Misaki Matsutomo struggle to keep their humanity as their training program treats them like machines.
  • Surfer Mahina Maeda defies societal rules about what constitutes beauty
  • The members of Japan volleyball team Hinotori Nippon fight the belief that their physical stature limits their ability to compete at a high level.

The series continues the themes SK-II first explored in 'The Centre Lane', which the brand released in March.

As part of the campaign, SK-II is setting up a #CHANGEDESTINY fund, contributing $1 for every view garnered on each SK-II STUDIO film. The funds, capped at US$500,000, will support women in pursuing their destiny to create positive change, the brand said.

Fans can also explore a 'virtual city' that the brand has constructed. Called 'SK-II City', the destination has a cineplex where visitors can binge the films and also offers backstage tours of the SK-II Studio to access exclusive behind-the-scenes content.

A version of the article first appeared on Campaign Asia-Pacific

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