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Skiers crash. SkaScore. by Afloters trip and fall. Sleds overturn. The very nature of competition means that every athlete loses, stumbles, or does not perform up to his or her standard at some point. If the latest advertising by the insurance firm Liberty Mutual is to be believed though, it is how the athletes respond to adversity that determine what makes for a champion.

With the branded tag line, “We believe with every setback, there’s a chance to comeback,” Liberty Mutual has created a series of short advertisements for television and online, highlighting competitors who have suffered substantial setbacks, both physical and emotional. For example, skeleton racer Katie Uhlaender had to cope with the death of her father (also an athlete, playing for the MLB), right before the 2010 Olympics. Although her performance left her at the back of the field there, she has since rededicated herself to the sport, determined to medal in 2014.

Staff Sgt. Rico Roman was terribly injured by an IED in Iraq, eventually leading to the amputation of his leg. In the aftermath, he found sled hockey, an adaptive sport in competition at the Paralympics. With minimal experience but a remarkable amount of determination, he made the national team.

J.R. Celsi’s injury occurred after he had found and even excelled in his sport, speed skating. In a fall during Olympic trials, his own skate blade sliced apart his quadriceps muscle. With mere months to prepare, he faced “the biggest challenge of my life” and came out of the traumatic recovery process with a clearer vision of why he competed and what made speed skating so important to him.

The link between these emotional, inspirational stories and an insurance company might at first seem tenuous. But Liberty Mutual takes care to emphasize stories of people dealing with tragedy and coming out, if not the same, stronger in another way. Its service promises to help its clients deal with a setback, so with this advertising campaign, it hopes consumers will regard themselves as potential champions as well. With the help of an insurance partner, they too can overcome their challenges.

Source: “Fallen Olympians Rise to Glory in Liberty Mutual’s Emotional Short-Film Campaign” Advertising Age, January 8, 2014

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