Entitled ‘Practice', it opens on a typical township dusty soccer field where a young man walks through the township to a soccer field. Here, he places a soccer ball on the ground and repeatedly and consistently kicks the ball over the top of the goal posts.
At this stage, you'd be forgiven for thinking you were watching yet another corporate sponsorship ad for the 2010 Soccer World Cup. But, when the screen fades away and a club logo appears you discover, somewhat unexpectedly, that the young man is in fact determinedly honing his rugby skills and that this is an ad for the SRC encouraging viewers to support the club by highlighting the lack of facilities and coaching for kids in Soweto with a rugby dream.
Philip Ireland and John Davenport, the founders of creative advertising agency Ireland/Davenport, have a long-standing relationship with the Club's Chairman, Dali Ndebele, which stretches back to university rugby playing days.
Ireland explains: “We began doing work for the SRC when we founded the agency and were in a position to contribute to Dali's vision. We ran a print campaign which had great success in bringing in old members and new players to turn out for the club, as well as generating column inches in the press and getting Dali invited onto TV talk shows.”
However, the SRC has, for some unfathomable reason, not been able to attract the serious local sponsors that it needs. Ironically, some foreign donor organisations are on their books instead. Davenport comments: “We felt something could be done to attract the attention of South African companies to the good work that the Club is doing. And following the interest of the initial work we did, we wanted to go further and do more.”
Working in collaboration with Frieze Films, Initiative Media, Oracle Airtime Sales and SuperSport, the Ireland/Davenport script was developed into the SRC's first-ever TV commercial.
“This story about the adversities facing the club was not just a story about rugby but also a story about the topsy turvy circumstances that make South Africa a unique place to live,” Tanchel says.
“For this reason, the commercial needed to have a scale to it that made it a commentary on our culture - a uniquely South African story. This scale would be found by combining simple, beautifully composed shots and an internalised performance from the lead. I spent weeks searching for the perfect locations and really immersing myself Soweto. 35mm was a necessity, and a great crew led by Rob Malpage made the most of a shooting day in Soweto.
“At this point, however, only half the work was done with an edit by Sake Bergh still to be finalised and the eternal music dilemma to solve. Finally, the edit was not only complete but fantastic, and a track from Sheryl Crow seemed to offer a great contrast to the pictures while pushing home our message,” Tanchel explains.
A total of 100 spots were negotiated in free airtime. “This is an incredibly generous donation of airtime from Oracle Airtime Sales and SuperSport. We were all thrilled at their response!” says Initiative Media's Lara Baldassarri.
Ndebele concludes: “All at the Club are delighted with the end result and are truly appreciative of the effort and time taken by all involved to get us to this point. We hope the campaign will create awareness for the club as well as creating supporters who are passionate about giving their support to the club, in any way they can.”
The TV commercial, in a 45” and 30” edit, will flight for a month on DStv's SuperSport and ESPN channels from 13 April 2008. Click here to view the commercial.