NRL 3 years ago

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Another NRL season—another mediocre commercial.

Every year the NRL tries hard with its new season advertisement, and every year it just doesn’t quite hit the mark. Today saw the release of the official 2015 season commercial, and once again it’s a bit heavy on the blasé and even heavier on the cheese.

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The NRL, and the equivalent institutions that came before it, have had some great commercials: Tina Turner’s ‘Simply the Best’ and Hoodoo Gurus’ ‘That’s My Team’ campaigns come to mind. They too were hokey, but in the context of the eras it didn’t seem to matter as much.

But we’ve moved on since those days. We’re supposed to be more professional; we’ve got one of the greatest sporting competitions in the world. Proof of this comes from the fact the game holds this accolade in spite of some of its advertising. The game could pretty much sell itself.

This new advertisement plays on all the typical angles: kids playing beach footy, grandstand finishes, action shots, joyous crowds ... et cetera, et cetera. It feels like a paint-by-numbers commercial someone threw together in a couple of afternoons.

Then there’s the bizarre: a creepy poster that comes to life; a tribal war dance on public transport; and a sequence that sees an exercise group participant emulate Greg Inglis’s signature Goanna move—while he either mows the lawn, pushes a shopping trolley, or steals a pram. I love the Goanna as much as the next person … but seriously, everything about this is awkward.

Then of course there are the ubiquitous quick shots of the cheerleaders—not long enough for them to be 'too racy,' but just long enough to remind us they’re still there. Throw in a Robbie Williams song from over fifteen years ago and you’ve got enough cheese to make a pizza.

In contrast, the UK Super League’s 2015 commercial hits on all the same themes the NRL is aiming for: the fans, the toughness, the skill, and above all the status of the sport as the  ‘every person’s game’—but it does so with a little finesse.

This commercial successfully combines simplicity, nuance and enough cinematic grandeur to make it seem like Russell Crowe himself will emerge from the tunnel to utter the line: "What we do on the field echoes in eternity." Sure, it’s not perfect—but it also hasn’t tried to include six different shots of fireworks, while conveniently excluding the clip of Billy Idol riding a hovercraft before a Grand Final.

The NRL could take a few pointers from the Super League on this one next time around. But for now it doesn’t matter, we’ve still got the greatest competition there is—let it entertain you.

Is the 2015 NRL commercial a hit or miss?

Lawnmower, shopping trolley, or pram theft—you decide…

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