Our Ad, Your Anthem

Kelly Johnson
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Ever since our new commercial dropped, it’s been shared, asked about and even recognized by top advertising gurus. Well we’re here to answer all those questions and give you a little inside scoop, too. 

Our goal was to create a meaningful moment, something that spoke to current Hydrow members and rowing enthusiasts, but would also inspire those who haven’t tried rowing (or a rowing machine) before. An anthem of sorts - and what more recognizable, everyone-knows-the-words song is there to build off of for our sport than the classic nursery rhyme “Row Row Row Your Boat?” 

Used by teachers around the world to help children learn the importance of a positive attitude, and to just keep going no matter what life throws at you - it was also the perfect metaphor for everything we at Hydrow believe in. Now, we just needed to make it our own.  The brilliant brainchild of our creative agency, Fair Folk (another Boston-born and based company), the team quickly got to work on new lyrics and storyboards. Creative Directors Jon Casey and Kevin Cimo pretty much nailed it right from the launch with these wonderful words:  

Strap on in, and take a seat // You feel the river, you feel the beat. Let's grow together, we row together // Better you, better me. Row, row around the globe // From here to Rome, in your home. Up and down the stream // You and your crew chasing dreams. It's live, it's real, it's human // A beautiful movement. Wherever you're from, wherever you've been // The journey begins, so –

Row row row your boat gently down the stream, Merrily, merrily, merrily , merrily, life is but a dream.

Now that we had the lyrics and found our beat, we needed a performer and hit the street. We needed a voice, one that reps us. Someone that truly gets us. 

Enter the scene: Gratitude Sound and rapper Latrell James. Together with Executive Producer Brian Hinkley, Latrell laid down the track that would end up being Hydrow’s new anthem come to life.

Next up was our four-day shoot. Yes, four days! And in four Massachusetts locations - Merrimack River, Marshfield, Framingham, and Sherborn. Plus, with COVID-19 precautions, it was a doubly lofty goal for Fair Folk Video Director Dave Shaw. Not to mention that we wanted to film two totally different versions - one we could use all year and one specifically for the holiday season. The heat was on. So much that it could melt snow (which we had to create because it wasn’t actually snowing). 

The crew call time was 4 am daily, and the shoots were about 10 hours a day. Every Hydrow on-water Athlete starred in it (all dressed in Fabletics, our new apparel partner, of course), and even three of their children - Aquil’s daughter Zoe (6), and Mike’s daughter Eva (4) and son Luke (6). Not only are these cute kiddos in the spot, but they’re also the voices singing at the very beginning. 

To keep everyone healthy during the pandemic, we hired a Covid compliance officer. Every person on set had to fill out a questionnaire, take their temperature, keep social distance, be outdoors as much as possible, and wear their masks the entire time. We also constantly disinfected all surfaces. Safety was our number one priority. 

The result of these long days and exhausting efforts? Two of the best spots we could have ever wished for - proving life really is but a dream if you believe in something enough. And, we aren’t the only ones who think the ads are pretty great. In fact, our Fit Santa holiday version starring Paul Mason (also known as Fashion Santa on Instagram, and now an avid Hydrow member himself), was named one of the Best Holiday Ads of 2020 by Adweek! To be recognized by the top professionals in advertising, on a list with some of the most recognizable brands and among these heartfelt spots from around the world, is truly a gift. We are honored and humbled by it. 

Haven’t seen the spots yet? Or want to give them another watch (or two or three). We have them available on our YouTube channel anytime or you can watch them below. Enjoy!