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Finweek English Edition - - ADVERTISING & MARKETING -

Be­ing a Vo­da­com Bulls player isn’t f or t he f a i nt- hea r t e d, s ay s Wimpie le Roux, gen­eral man­ager of spe­cial­ist ad agency 1886. “It’s a tough job fac­ing charg­ing Maoris, larg­erthan-life for­wards and ra­zor-sharp backs at full pace,” he says. But even more ter­ri­fy­ing is the chal­lenge of singing Stand by Me on tele­vi­sion.

The cam­paign to at­tract new fans kicked off with a teaser ad (www.youtube.com/watch? v=SLEc-f b1u1w) fea­tur­ing the Bulls talk­ing about fear, about some­thing in their f uture which was go­ing to be ‘the scari­est thing they’ve ever done”. The viewer makes an in­stant con­nec­tion with the im­mi­nent sea­sonopen­ing clash with the DHL Storm­ers.

A week ahead of the game, the “re­veal” w a s a i r e d ( w w w. y o u t u b e . c o m / watch? v=cYRRAvi3cpw). This opened in the locker room with the play­ers look- ing rather ner­vous, stressed and se­ri­ous. Then, cap­tain Pierre Spies steps for­ward and be­gins to... sing a ren­di­tion of Stand by Me. The team joins in with a raw, open-hearted, ap­peal for sup­port. Rugby play­ers they are, singers they ain’t – but the fans loved it.

Mar­ry­ing tele­vi­sion with on­line and vi­ral com­po­nents, a few weeks be­fore the Storm­ers’ match and within days of the crit­i­cal com­po­nent of t he cam­paign be­ing added to YouTube and Face­book, it notched up a phe­nom­e­nal 209 000 views, a num­ber many pro­fes­sional mu­si­cians would be proud of.

“The Vo­da­com Bulls now stand apart from other teams, the video is cre­at­ing great lik­a­bil­ity for the play­ers and the brand. It ’s a brand prop­erty that the Vo­da­com Bulls own and which can be ac­ti­vated at live events through­out the Su­per Rugby sea­son,” said Le Roux.

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