Hennessy Celebrates A Forgotten Cycling Legend, Marshall ‘Major’ Taylor

Hennessy Cognac highlights cycling legend Marshall ‘Major’ Taylor in their latest ad campign for ‘Wild Rabbit’. Marshall Walter “Major” Taylor was an American track cyclist who started his professional racing career at the age of 18 in 1896.

“Never settle, never stop.”

Hennessy cognac’s has a new 90-second film for their ‘Wild Rabbit’ ad campaign, and it is an ode to one of the most renowned track cyclists of his time, Marshall ‘Major’ Taylor. The video was created in partnership with creative agency Droga5 and it highlights the enduring spirit and burning talent that made Taylor a champion.

Major Taylor and Léon Hourlier racing at the Buffalo Velodrome, 1909.

Marshall Walter “Major” Taylor was an American track cyclist who started his professional racing career at the age of 18 in 1896. He won the sprint event at the 1899 world track championships in Montreal, becoming the first African American to achieve world champion status and the second black athlete to win a world championship in any sport. He also set numerous world records in the sprint category and competed in races across the U.S., Europe and Australasia.

Hennessy V.S. | Major:90

Since 2012, Hennessy launched the ‘What’s your Wild Rabbit’ campaign featuring stories of historical heroes, such as the 2016 short video inspired by the father and son space explorers Auguste and Jacques Piccard. In the same exciting and cinematic style, but with a darker edge, the Major Taylor video features an unnamed professional cyclist racing as Taylor on a 1900’s-style wooden track. The film quickly morphs into a dark vortex where Taylor is ‘faced with his toughest competitor yet’.

“Marshall ‘Major’ Taylor’s perseverance to achieve new levels of greatness despite adversity is universally inspiring,” said Giles Woodyer, senior vice president of Hennessy US. “His tremendous accomplishments are truly impressive and exemplify his ongoing pursuit to break boundaries. We feel it’s important to shine a light on this story and hope it inspires people around the world to push the limits of their own potential.”

Major Taylor (1907)[Collection Jules Beau.]

Hennessy will continue to honor Taylor’s legacy through an ESPN documentary tribute which will feature commentary from BMX athlete Nigel Sylvester and road cyclist Ayesha McGowan. The film will air April 22nd on ESPN. Hennessy is also collaborating with artists and visionaries who have been moved by Taylor’s story, including artist and cycling enthusiast Kadir Nelson, who created a modern bronze sculpture titled ‘The Major,’ and musical artist Nas who lends his voice to Taylor in the TV commercial. The National Brotherhood of Cyclists (NBC) and Hennessy will honor Taylor through education and tribute rides around Taylor’s birthday (November 26th).

The short film was directed by Derek Cianfrance, of Place Beyond the Pines and Blue Valentine, and shot in Ukraine.

See the video below for a behind-the-scenes look at the making of ‘Major’. 

Hennessy V.S | Making Major

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