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Droga5 Spotlights the Intelligence of the Black Chess Grandmaster for Hennessy's 'What's Your Wild Rabbit'

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Directed by Daniel Wolfe, the film follows Maurice's mental development and immersion in the infinite possibilities of the game

Droga5 Spotlights the Intelligence of the Black Chess Grandmaster for Hennessy's 'What's Your Wild Rabbit'

In 1999, a Jamaican born, Brooklyn raised man by the name of Maurice Ashley became the first Black Chess Grandmaster, breaking an impenetrable barrier in the 1400-year history of competitive chess. Little has been shared about his start and strategies for pushing the potential of his mind, until now…

The next iteration of ‘What’s Your Wild Rabbit’ spotlights the first Black Chess Grandmaster, Maurice Ashley - a story of Black intellect and brilliance. Beginning with his introduction to the game as a young man, the creative documents his development under the tutelage of ‘The Black Bear School of Chess’, a group of accomplished local chess players who congregated in New York City’s Prospect Park. The game of chess developed into Ashley’s own Wild Rabbit by making him push the limits of his own mind, eventually allowing him to become one of Chess’ all-time greats and the first Black Chess Grandmaster in the world.

"Hennessy’s ‘Wild Rabbit’ campaign has always been concerned with amazing physical feats and triumphs of will. This time we wanted to tell the story of a triumph of the mind. To do this, we went deep into all the things that influenced Maurice’s development: his environment, his mentors and antagonists, the art, music, movies, video games and martial arts training that all fed into his mastery of the game," said Jason Gold, senior art director, Droga5.

Hennessy’s next chapter focuses on the power of the mind - an undeniable narrative that has been overlooked and discounted within multicultural communities for far too long. Whereas cultural narratives tend to focus on black success in the context of athleticism and entertainment, we wanted to help shift that narrative, and tell a 'Never Stop. Never Settle' story of mental and intellectual greatness. 

Directed by Daniel Wolfe, the films depict Maurice's mental development and immersion in the infinite possibilities of the game, including many key learnings and opponent styles that shaped his view of and approach to the game. The cerebral aspect of chess is highlighted, which pushed him deeper into competition with his own self to push the limits of his mind’s potential.

Created in collaboration with creative agency Droga5, Hennessy’s new campaign will be broken into three distinct storytelling strains. The first features a long-form ad that dramatises the story of Maurice Ashley and his development as a champion and man through the camaraderie and harsh lessons of The Black Bear School. The second features a series of short-form ads that bring to life the 'Lessons of a Grandmaster,' Patience and Vision. These stand-alone shorts illustrate the mind-expanding lessons Maurice learned through playing chess and draw a parallel to strategies everyone can employ in everyday life. The third is a short documentary of the history of Maurice and The Black Bear School. The film is a seminal piece of largely-forgotten New York City Black history that will finally be given the attention it deserves. 

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Agency: Droga5 NY

Creative Chairman: David Droga

Co-Chief Creative Officer: Tim Gordon

Co-Chief Creative Officer: Felix Richter

Global Head of Art: Alexander Nowak

Creative Director: Thom Glover

Senior Copywriter: Ted Meyer

Art Director: Kamal Collins

Copywriter: Emily Berger

Senior Art Director: Jason Gold

Associate Director of Film Production: Ruben Mercadal

Associate Producer, Film: Connor Hagan

Music Supervisor: Mike Ladman

Director of Business Affairs: Dan Simonetti

Celebrity Talent Relations Lead & Sr. Business Affairs Manager: Whitney Vose

Senior Business Affairs Manager: Ann Marie Turbitt

Director of Art Production: Cliff Lewis

Associate Director, Art Production: Bianca Escobar

Global Chief Strategy Officer: Jonny Bauer

Head of Strategy: New Business

Strategy Director: Ryan McDaid

Strategy Director: Drew Simel

Brand Strategist: Justin Clagette

Head of Communications Strategy: Dean Challis

Group Comms Strategy Director: Delphine Mckinley

Senior Communications Strategist: Mariel Milner

Group Data Strategy Director: Christina Fieni

Data Strategist: Greg Berard

Group Account Director: Lindsay Cole

Account Director: Marissa Guerra

Account Supervisor: Mosito Ramaili

Associate Account Manager: Vanessa Foinquinos

Senior Project Manager: Sarah Arrillaga

Project Manager: Danielle Gibbons


Client: Moët Hennessy

SVP, Hennessy: Giles Woodyer

Chief Marketing Officer: Michael Aidan

Global VP Marketing, Premium Range: Amanda Hawk

Senior Brand Director, Hennessy V.S: Deon Harris

Senior Director, Media Investments & Partnerships: Seth Zaharako

Main Films Production 

Production Company: Somesuch

Director: Daniel Wolfe

DOP: Diego Garcia

Executive Producer: Nicky Barnes

Producer: Adriana Cebada Mora

Service Production 

Service Production Company: The Lift

Partner / Producer: Jose Barrera

Line Producer: Fuad Abed Dalton

Production Manager: Helena Medina


Photography: Second Child

Stills Photographer: Paul McGiever

Managing Director: Scott Chinn

Producer: Chelsea Greenwood


Editorial Company: Cut + Run / The Quarry

Editor: Paul Watts

Assistant Editor: Beau Dickson

Executive Producer: Ellese Shell

Executive Producer: Tor Adams

Managing Director: Lauren Hertzberg

Editorial Company: Cut + Run

Editor: Beau Dickson

Managing Director: Lauren Hertzberg

Executive Producer: Ellese Shell

Producer: Marcia Wigley


Colour: Framestore

Colourist: Simon Bourne

Senior Producer: Chris Anthony

35mm Film Print DeJonghe NV
Post Production 

Post Production: The Mill

Director of Production: Andrew Sommerville

Production Supervisor: Heino Henning

Senior Producer: Mandy Harris

Associate Producer: Nathan Niamehr

VFX Shoot Supervisor: Dan Williams

VFX Shoot Supervisor: Ruben Vandebroek

Creative Directors: Dan Williams

Creative Directors: Gavin Wellsman

2D Lead Artist: Keith Sullivan

3D Lead Artist: Yong Chan Kim

Art Director: Fionna Lanning


Music: Q Department

Music: Epidemic Sound, SoStero

Sound and Design 

Sound Design and Mix: Wave Studios

Sound Designer/Mixer: Aaron Reynolds

Executive Producer: Vicky Ferraro

Producer: Eleni Giannopoulos

Voice Over

Artist / Main VO: Nas

Secondary VO: David Callahan

Chess Consultant

Chess Consultant: Maurice Ashley

Title Design 

Title Design: Fraser Muggeridge

Historical Researcher: Tamsin Rawady

Title Design: Dorcia Studios

Creative Director: Daryl Higgins

Content Film Production 

Production Company: Somesuch

Director: Elliott Power

Executive Producer: Nicky Barnes

Producer: Erin Kennedy

Post Production

Post Production: Jogger

Sound Design 

Sound Design and Mix: Wave Studios

Sound Designer/Mixer: Aaron Reynolds 

Executive Producer: Vicky Ferraro

Producer: Eleni Giannopoulos

Title Design 
Additional Stills

Additional Photography: Saint Louis Chess Club & Spectrum Studios

Photographer: Kevin Duggin

Genres: People, Dialogue

Categories: Spirits, Alcoholic Beverages

Droga5 New York, Mon, 14 Sep 2020 16:10:11 GMT