Olympic Swimmer Ning Zetao Shows Us #PerfectIsntPretty for Gillette


In Gillette’s’ latest ad for the Olympic Games Rio 2016, the company stayed true to the international appeal of the games, featuring a number of well-known Olympic athletes to serve as KOL’s in their campaign, #PerfectIsntPretty. This sharp and gritty campaign integrated an intense display of visuals and included uplifting music from artist, Sia.

Perfect Isn’t Pretty, Even If It Looks Like It

The familiar faces featured in the campaign ranged from Olympic athletes such as Neymar JR., Aston Eaton, and Andy Tennant. Chinese Olympic swimmer Ning Zetao however, stole the show in this campaign showing the true pain of pretty in his journey of preparing for the Olympic games. Zetao won China’s heart at the 2015 FINA World Championships after winning the men’s 100m freestyle final at the Aquatics World Championships in Russia,

Ning Zetao practices his swimming for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games

Ning Zetao practices for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games

Zetao Takes a Splashes at Swirling Speculation

In the 3-minute Gillette campaign, the adversity that each athlete faces in the time leading up to the Rio 2016 Olympic games is featured. “Will Ning live up to the hype and win Gold for China?” can be heard in Chinese as Ning reflects on the intense training  that he endured through his childhood up until the very moments he is seen preparing for the Olympics.

The inclusion of this criticism is poignant reminder of the type of adversity Zetao is all too familiar with. Back in July, Zetao denied rumors of being cut from the Chinese Olympic team after reports on social media insisted he undertook too many commercial engagements to participate in the Olympics. His presence paired with this element of the campaign served as an end-all response to the swirling allegations as Zetao has maintained a minimal response to these rumors as he prepares for the games.

Neng Zetao is found practicing his breathing as he trains for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games

Neng Zetao is found practicing his breathing as he trains for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games

Resilience as Sharp as a Razor

As the ad continues, the edged determination of Zetao and the other featured Olympic athletes was displayed in blazing visuals and the mantra of resilience: “Perfect Isn’t Pretty.” As the athletes exhausted their limits and pushed their abilities to the next level, each proved the true meaning of what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.  Zetao, overcoming exhaustion and surpassing his own ability, maintained a focus that was clearly articulated in the campaign which emphasized it’s focus on the sharp and clean shave that Zetao maintained throughout the ad.

With each milestone demonstrated in every frame that featured Zetao, he showed another facet of himself, displaying his passion for his nationality. Towards the end of the campaign, Zetao is seen celebrating his own culture and integrating it with his training with runs along The Great Wall of China and visits to the metropolitan centre of Beijing.

Ning Zetao shaves with his Gillette razor before his training for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games

Ning Zetao shaves with his Gillette razor before his training for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games

The ad, which has garnered over 27 million views on YouTube, was a dazzling creative analogy to the precise and fleeting nature of perfection. Gillette, with the creative direction Grey NY, manifested this analogy in long nights of grueling practice, sacrificed time with loved ones, and physical and mental challenges coming from every direction. By the end of the ad, each athlete found resolve in a clean and resilient shave that served as the best a man can get, which was well worth the chase.

About Author

Kylan Kester

Kylan Kester, originally from Atlanta, is currently studying Marketing and Chinese at Morehouse College. He is spending the summer with the SMART@Resonance team to further pursue his passion for digital marketing and China.

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