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The Lightning Bolt

The Lightning Bolt

Sulaiman Beg

Sulaiman Beg

July 15, 2019

BETC/Havas partnered with PUMA to create the Cannes Lions-winning biographical book that celebrates the life of speedster Usain Bolt.

"A tribute to the world's fastest man had to be as fast as him. That’s why it’s not only a biography book, it’s also a flipbook."

How do you honor the fastest man in the world? BETC/Havas Executive Creative Director Andrea Siqueira shares how the multiple Cannes Lions-winning The 9’58 Biography, that documents Usain Bolt’s life and world record–shattering sprint in the final of the World Athletics Championship in 2009, came to life. 

Give us some background on your relationship with PUMA and the creative brief they gave the team. 

PUMA is a global client of Havas Media and a local client of Havas Group in Brazil. Usain Bolt, a long-time PUMA Influencer, was coming to Brazil for the launch of the new HYBRID NX shoe in April. Since PUMA has a long-term relationship with Bolt and he’s celebrating the tenth anniversary of his setting a world record in the 100-meter sprint, we saw the opportunity to create an homage for him. 

How did the idea come about to create The 9’58 Biography? 

In 2009, Usain Bolt broke the 100-meter world’s record and made history. And behind this incredible mark, there is a lot of sweat, training, and effort. We wanted to tell this story 10 years later, showing an angle that few people know—all the hard facts of his life that made him the winner he is. But a tribute to the world’s fastest man had to be as fast as him. That’s why it’s not only a biography book, it’s also a flipbook. 

How did you choose what to include? 

The book has 224 pages, each one representing a fact from his life and a frame of the race. It demanded a lot of research through interviews and articles about Bolt’s life. It’s a biography book but it’s also a flipbook, showing an animation of 9’58, recreating the iconic race. Literally step by step, we showed the race and told the story behind the race. 

The book itself is almost as remarkable as Usain Bolt’s historic run. It’s full of incredible details and it’s timed so that it takes 9’58 seconds to flip through. How did you even go about producing and designing this? 

It took time, patience, and hard work in designing it. Each of the 224 pages has a unique design. The design chosen to illustrate the book uses black and gold elements, which helped create a striking visual effect with a touch of sophistication due to the importance of the tribute. For me and, especially, for Erh [Ray, BETC/Havas CCO], craft is really important.

"It took time, patience, and hard work in designing it. Each of the 224 pages has a unique design."

What was Usain’s reaction to receiving the book? How did you get it into his hands? 

When he came for the launching of new PUMA HYBRID shoes on April 4, there was an event with runners and influencers to welcome him. It was the perfect time to create this tribute and celebrate with him. He was surprised and amazed by the homage. He flipped the book himself, on the stage. It was a great moment. And when he’s standing still, you realize how tall he is. He’s really tall. 

How does it feel now that the project has been awarded three Cannes Lions? Did you always know the project would be so acclaimed? 

We had to wake up the team behind this idea (Lucas Ribeiro and Alexandre Kazuo), since we called them from Cannes, where the time of day is five hours ahead of São Paulo. They were, and are, really happy. We all know, as creatives, that awards don’t change our lives, but it feels nice to have hard work being recognized. 

Do you have any highlights or anecdotes around the work? 

The race and the animation on the flipbook last for only 9’58 seconds. But it took 10 months to get the idea done.

"A tribute to the world's fastest man had to be as fast as him. That’s why it’s not only a biography book, it’s also a flipbook."

How do you honor the fastest man in the world? BETC/Havas Executive Creative Director Andrea Siqueira shares how the multiple Cannes Lions-winning The 9’58 Biography, that documents Usain Bolt’s life and world record–shattering sprint in the final of the World Athletics Championship in 2009, came to life. 

Give us some background on your relationship with PUMA and the creative brief they gave the team. 

PUMA is a global client of Havas Media and a local client of Havas Group in Brazil. Usain Bolt, a long-time PUMA Influencer, was coming to Brazil for the launch of the new HYBRID NX shoe in April. Since PUMA has a long-term relationship with Bolt and he’s celebrating the tenth anniversary of his setting a world record in the 100-meter sprint, we saw the opportunity to create an homage for him. 

How did the idea come about to create The 9’58 Biography? 

In 2009, Usain Bolt broke the 100-meter world’s record and made history. And behind this incredible mark, there is a lot of sweat, training, and effort. We wanted to tell this story 10 years later, showing an angle that few people know—all the hard facts of his life that made him the winner he is. But a tribute to the world’s fastest man had to be as fast as him. That’s why it’s not only a biography book, it’s also a flipbook. 

How did you choose what to include? 

The book has 224 pages, each one representing a fact from his life and a frame of the race. It demanded a lot of research through interviews and articles about Bolt’s life. It’s a biography book but it’s also a flipbook, showing an animation of 9’58, recreating the iconic race. Literally step by step, we showed the race and told the story behind the race. 

The book itself is almost as remarkable as Usain Bolt’s historic run. It’s full of incredible details and it’s timed so that it takes 9’58 seconds to flip through. How did you even go about producing and designing this? 

It took time, patience, and hard work in designing it. Each of the 224 pages has a unique design. The design chosen to illustrate the book uses black and gold elements, which helped create a striking visual effect with a touch of sophistication due to the importance of the tribute. For me and, especially, for Erh [Ray, BETC/Havas CCO], craft is really important.

"It took time, patience, and hard work in designing it. Each of the 224 pages has a unique design."

What was Usain’s reaction to receiving the book? How did you get it into his hands? 

When he came for the launching of new PUMA HYBRID shoes on April 4, there was an event with runners and influencers to welcome him. It was the perfect time to create this tribute and celebrate with him. He was surprised and amazed by the homage. He flipped the book himself, on the stage. It was a great moment. And when he’s standing still, you realize how tall he is. He’s really tall. 

How does it feel now that the project has been awarded three Cannes Lions? Did you always know the project would be so acclaimed? 

We had to wake up the team behind this idea (Lucas Ribeiro and Alexandre Kazuo), since we called them from Cannes, where the time of day is five hours ahead of São Paulo. They were, and are, really happy. We all know, as creatives, that awards don’t change our lives, but it feels nice to have hard work being recognized. 

Do you have any highlights or anecdotes around the work? 

The race and the animation on the flipbook last for only 9’58 seconds. But it took 10 months to get the idea done.

Sulaiman Beg is Havas' Director of Global Internal Communications. He has never eaten canned tuna fish.

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