ASICS-based Mind Games project inspires Amazon documentary

by | Jan 18, 2023 | News

Amazon Prime Video is poised to drop a new documentary that grew out of a social experiment from sportswear brand ASICS. Produced by Banijay-owned Beyond Productions, Mind Games – The Experiment will debut globally on January 19th.

Narrated by Stephen Fry, Mind Games – The Experiment unpacks a study that follows sedentary gamers to see if exercise can take their game to the next level by improving cognitive function, mental performance – and hopefully their global gaming rankings.

Featuring accessible science, the film follows four gamers, Kassa Korley, Ryoei Hirano, Ben Pridmore and Sherry Nhan – who specialise in Chess, Mahjong, Memory and Esports – as they compete in tournaments around the world. Results from a further 70+ gamers from 20 countries are also included so that the film can draw conclusive results as well as tell the human stories of the four main characters.

At a time when innovative funding models for content are being explored, Mind Games – The Experiment is at the forefront of a new wave of commercially supported content that bypasses the conventional commissioning process. In this case, ASICS, took the decision to create an editorially driven, impartial and unbranded film, without having a broadcaster attached at the outset. Later, Beyond Productions and ASICS approached the commercial partnerships division at Amazon mid-production to explore the possibility of placing the film on its Prime Video streaming service.

“Our work with ASICS – which is basically unbranded branded content, is the next iteration of commercially supported content and a truly authentic way to reach and engage with a wide range of viewers, not just those who are already consumers of the brand,” says Hamo Forsyth, creative director, factual at Beyond Productions.

The genesis of the project came in early 2022, when ASICS invited inactive mind gamers from around the world to start exercising. Over 16 weeks, each gamer followed an exercise programme designed by international coach, Andrew Kastor. The impact of the exercise programme on the participant’s mental performance was measured by Professor Brendon Stubbs, a researcher in movement and the mind.

The results were positive. Participants’ international gaming rankings improved by an incredible 75% and cognitive function was boosted on average by 10%. Inspired by the experiment, a camera crew followed four competitive gamers as they took on regular exercise to improve their rankings on the international stage.

Gary Raucher, EVP, ASICS EMEA said: “Our founding purpose is literally in our name, Anima Sana In Corpore Sano or a Sound Mind, Sound Body. Through Mind Games -The Experiment, we want to inspire more people to move. Because if exercise can sharpen even the brightest minds, imagine what it can do for the rest of us.”

The ‘Mind Games – The Experiment’ concept was developed by Neil A Dawson & Company. The experiment and earned campaign were led by Golin London. The documentary was produced by Beyond Productions. Media buying was handled by Le Pub. Campaign production was developed by Bangers and Nash.

While ASICS’s branding of the new documentary is almost invisible, the project forms part of a broader programme of cross-media activities designed to help the company become a leader in mental wellbeing through sport. Also in 2022, it launched Mind Race, which explores what happens when active people are forced to be inactive. That campaign generated significant coverage across lifestyle and sports media by showing just 15 minutes of daily exercise can maintain a person’s mental wellbeing.

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