AFL's latest ad a "showpiece” for future partnerships

James McGrath
By James McGrath | 2 April 2015

AFL Media says it's latest video content to mark the start of the season, created in-house in partnership with Virgin Australia will be a showcase piece it can take to other brands and potential partners in the future.

General manager of AFL Media Peter Campbell told AdNews that the piece of branded content was more than a year in the making.

“We have been working on the piece since the start of last year with Virgin,” Campbell said. “We pitched this to Virgin, and we really have to thank them and Michael Scott over there for taking a punt on something a bit different and something we're really proud of.”

The content piece (watch it below) chronicles the life of AFL superstar Gary Ablett Jr in first person, from backyard kick-to-kick to twin Brownlow Medal wins.

The end product has striking similarities to a Guy Ritchie-directed ad for Nike in 2010 ahead of the football World Cup in South Africa, titled “Take it to the next level”.

That ad (also below), and won plaudits for its originality and technical prowess.

Campbell acknowledged there were “definitely elements that are similar to that ad”, but said that there were enough differences between ads.

“We're confident there are different nuances to our ad which makes it different,” Campbell said.

“From memory that Nike Ad was set in the present day with an unknown player, whereas ours goes through the entire life of Gary Ablett.”

Nike was unavailable for comment at the time of publishing.

Campbell added that AFL Media it was only able to come up with the concept because of the way it had increasingly grown its media unit.

“It's really testament to the way we've really ramped up our capabilities in that space, and while we did have to bring in some outside help of bringing in a director and doing the CGI outside, all the creative and production was done in house,” Campbell said.

The AFL has been gradually beefing up its AFL Media unit as it attempts to provide fans content outside of the AFL season, to keep them engaged between games and between seasons.

It has done branded content pieces with sponsors before including pieces with Telstra, NAB, and British Paints.

However, Campbell said this was the most complex executions the AFL Media Unit had ever attempted.

“When you think about all the elements we had to pull together to make this fly, it's a mind-boggling execution,” Campbell said. “We needed to have all the talent on board, not least of all Gary [Ablett Jnr] himself together with all the players and journos in that ad.”

The Gary Ablett Jnr spot will be hosted on Virgin Australia's social media channels and be played at half time during tonight's AFL match between Carlton and Richmond in Melbourne.

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