Interview: How Anthony Joshua Helped Lucozade Sport Make Their Knockout TV Ad (Part 1)

There can be no doubt with his win over Wladimir Klitschko on an unforgettable night in April that Anthony Joshua finally became a global sporting phenomenon. Over 90,000 people packed out the iconic stadium, audiences in over 140 countries tuned in and box office records were smashed. Indeed, before the fight, much was already made of Joshua’s roster of 13 sponsors and predictions that with a win over Klitschko, he would even become boxing’s first billionaire.

One brand which is partnered with Joshua stood out from all the others in the run up to the fight. Using an impactful TV advert detailing Joshua’s background Lucozade Sport was able to generate widespread interest not only in their brand ambassador ahead of his big fight but also about Lucozade Sport’s own “Made To Move” campaign. The campaign has the ambitious target of get one million people moving more by 2020 in the UK, as part of a campaign to highlight and also champion active lifestyles. This is a campaign which I’ll speak more about in a second post coming soon.

I spoke to James Young, Head of Partnerships at Lucozade Sport about not only the partnership with Joshua but also what it was like working with the IBF Heavyweight Champion of the world ahead of his big fight.

Starting off he admitted: “We got a little bit lucky in terms of the Klitschko fight, turning out to be the super fight that it was. It got  so much attention.”

Regarding the video itself, which has over 20 million views to date (including the TV advert views as well as social views across multiple media platforms), he said: “The thing I like about the TV ad is that it was borne out of proactivity.”

“The creative agencies we work with they came to us and told us this story, and that’s the power of working with someone like AJ. He endears that kind of interest to the point where a creative director at an agency will come back to the brand and say ‘What do you think of this?’ We fell in love with the idea, then it is the day to day, the figuring out how to make it, fit in the production schedule, because once boxers  go into training camp, they are  hard to get any substantial time with.”

The video is based on Joshua’s journey from a young child in his home with his mother in Watford, then through his youth, to, most interestingly his troubles with the law, his work as a bricklayer and finally his boxing career. It ends with the line: “Nobody ever moved forward standing still.”

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Young admitted the huge role that Joshua played in formulating this critical piece of content and said: “We had this story of AJ’s life based on hearsay, internet research, previous press articles, . It all seemed to make sense to us but it was never going to get off the ground if AJ didn’t engage with it. So, the really important step was spending some quality time with him, telling him the story, and working with him to understand a little bit more the journey he has been on. That was really important, that it had that authenticity about it.”

“The story of AJ’s brushes with the law were in the public domain. For a lot of people that were new to the AJ show they wouldn’t have known it but it wasn’t like we were breaking the news.”

Two key things stand out from this piece of content for me. Firstly, it doesn’t shy away from Joshua’s problems with the law and secondly, what many audiences might not know is that Joshua’s own mother actually features throughout the ad.

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Regarding the unvarnished section within the advert, Young said: “The story of AJ’s brushes with the law were in the public domain. For a lot of people that were new to the AJ show they wouldn’t have known it but it wasn’t like we were breaking the news.”

Yet Young did still have to ask the question to Joshua if it could be included.

He revealed: “I remember the meeting I had with him and I had to directly ask how he felt about that section being included, he didn’t bat an eyelid, he said ‘Look, it is the truth of what happened.’ He recognised it played a role in how his life has developed and you can’t airbrush it. He’s a very real person, he doesn’t put on an act, it was never really an issue or not if it would go in there.”

Meanwhile, regarding including his mother within the TV ad, Joshua had actually suggest it.

Young said: “I’m really happy that AJ played a big role in shaping this film. The fact that his mum ended up being in it was direct input from AJ. We had a slightly different ending, not a dramatically different story, but he pointed out that it would be nice if the video came full circle to him and his mum. That is full credit to the guy. Family is so incredibly important to him, that he wanted to acknowledge the huge role his family have played in his success to date.”

“I think the media has made way too much out of the number of sponsors he has.”

Turning to Joshua’s very healthy (and lengthening list of sponsors), I asked if such a volume of competing brands meant that it was hard to maintain a share of voice.

Young said: “It comes down to the quality of what you want to do with him.”

” Every sponsor will have   different objectives. For some sponsors it might just be about pure awareness, so sticking a logo on a pair of shorts is enough for that brand. The real strenght to our partnership   is that AJ shares the vision with us of getting people moving more.”

He pointed to other activities that Lucozade Sport have done with Joshua saying: “Everything we’ve done with him has been to that end, whether it has been the flash mob we did with him in north London, the digital Made To Move session, the TV ad.”

“When you can go to AJ and his management and say we’ve got a cracking story to tell or a really clever way to do stuff, that’s how you ensure you use your time with him well. It’s not really that much more complicated than that.

Regarding Joshua’s envious list of sponsors he said: “I think the media has made way too much out of the number of sponsors he has. I couldn’t read an article about him without being told he had 13 sponsors.  It makes it sound as if all he’d have time for is commercial appearances when really the boxing and training always comes first.  


Finally, with a record breaking, generation defining rematch on the horizon (potentially to take place in October), Young admitted the challenge that the brand now faces after such a successful campaign.

He said: “It would be amazing if  they would fight again. The worldwide demand for that fight will mean we’re in a great position to leverage that, but we’ve got a hard act to follow.Y ou know you can only tell someone’s origin story once really.”

“But again, coming back to shared goals, there are lots of new and interesting ways we can use the interest in AJ to get  people moving more and we are trying to be brutally single minded like that.”

Part two of the interview with James Young will be posted next week too.