A few weeks ago I wrote a post on the tremendous power people can have in content marketing. I began with this:

When it comes to high-quality content marketing, the common denominator is people, not product. Well, sometimes product. But that’s almost always second to people.

Under Armour’s just-released Michael Phelps video proves my point.

When I last heard about the Olympic swimmer, he was being branded a Subway-eating stoner. Others may be aware of his DUI arrest a couple of years ago. Chances are, if you’ve thought of Michael Phelps recently, it wasn’t as a future Olympic contender. Then this came out:

The video, which nominally features Under Armour gear, focuses on the sacrifice it takes to be great. Or, at least, what it takes to get back to a place of greatness. It requires ice baths, flame-aided physical therapy and heaping plates of carb-heavy food. The punishment is both physical and mental.

The video’s powerful narrative is a comeback and a curtain call for the athlete (he turns 31 in June, well past the retirement age for most Olympians). While some might argue this video is more advertising than content marketing, I’ll take the opposing point of view and say it’s a compelling story that just happens to have a logo at the end.

Phelps’ struggle is clearly resonating with people, too. In under a week, almost 3.6 million people watched the video on YouTube and over 2 million saw it on Facebook. Knowing what they had, Under Armour was sharp enough to record Phelps and his fiancée the first time they viewed it.

Whether it’s advertising or content marketing, over 240 articles have been written about the Phelps training video — many by major news organizations. If nothing else, it serves as a case study for savvy marketing. And for why you should put people first.