A simple field in Lugarno, in south-western Sydney, featuring kids kicking a footy has set the stage for one of the most magical transformations in Australian sports advertising.
The National Rugby League tonight unveiled a 2009 Telstra Premiership television campaign that showcases local kids becoming local heroes as the game celebrated its special bond with its grass-roots community.
Created by award-winning advertising agency MJW, computer generated effects featuring stadiums emerging from open parkland and light towers breaking out of the ground showcase effects that created the magic of the Lord of The Rings trilogy.
But the story of kids growing into NRL heroes is real.
"We wanted to highlight the dream kids have of going from playing in the park to playing in the NRL and this campaign captures that evolution,” NRL Director, Marketing and Commercial, Mr Paul Kind, said.
"This campaign sees two young boys fulfilling their dream by emulating their heroes and competing on the toughest sporting stage in the world.
"It showcases the excitement and drama of the Telstra Premiership and encourages fans to experience it live.
"Rugby League is a grass-roots game that inspires everyone and at the pinnacle of that is the excitement of the Telstra Premiership.”
The use of face screening technology enables a seamless transformation as seven-year-old Penrith junior Cameron Lloyd grows into a flying Brett Stewart and 14-year-old La Perouse junior Alex Johnston into a hard-running Greg Inglis, while a team of 3D artists using programmes such as maya, linux and massive – the computer software programme specifically developed for Lord Of The Rings – generated large groups of three-dimensional life-like figures each performing unique roles.
The 60-second advertisement continues Rugby League’s proud association with Australian music with a specially-recorded version of local star Wes Carr’s hit single ‘Feels Like Woah’ the final magical ingredient added to the campaign.
"It’s about an enormous energy and a very powerful emotion. Fans and players alike can ‘feel it’,” MJW Managing Director, Mr Paul McKay, said.
"It’s about how local kids become local heroes. This connects with fans of all ages in a way that engages them and re-ignites their love and passion for the game.
"The MJW team is both excited by and proud of the NRL 2009 campaign.”
The three-day shoot involved 13 hour-days in both a TV studio and on location at HC Evatt Parkland with 150 NRL Club Members featuring as extras.
"It was fun being part of the filming. It brought back memories of us running around playing footy in the backyard and that’s how so many kids get their start in the game,” Brett Stewart said tonight.
"As the ad shows, it’s about kids going on to realise their dream of playing in the NRL and that’s just what Glenn and I have been lucky enough to do.”