No other sport captures the Australian imagination quite like AFL. Cricket is too slow (and too English) and Rugby, while bizarrely big in Queensland and New South Wales, leaves the rest of the country out in the cold. AFL has over 6.3 million fans aged fourteen and over in the country, making it our national sport in all but name, so it’s safe to say that NAB’s on to a good thing with their relationship to AusKick, a weekly training program designed to teach kids the ins and outs of the game.
NAB has been sponsoring AusKick for ten years now, a fact which isn’t particularly interesting to most millennials. Recently, however, the bank released ‘NAB Mini Legends’ a campaign that celebrated that fact and, amazingly, made it matter to the 18 – 35 year old demographic.
The ad is the brainchild of Clemenger BBDO Melbourne and has been written up by every Australian outlet from Triple M to the Herald Sun. Despite only being on air since August 5th, it’s certainly secured itself a place in our hearts. It’s not hard to see why.
It’s a great ad, featuring a bunch of kids dressed up as famous footy players. There’s a ruggedly bearded Max Gawn, a perfectly moustached Taylor Walker and a heavily tattooed Buddy Franklin. There’s even a Gary Ablett Jnr, as aerodynamic as the real thing. I don’t know why, but there’s something incredibly amusing about seeing little kids dressed up as adults, doing adult things. It’s cute and squishy and ridiculous. But it’s also very emotive. It hits us right in the nostalgia – taking us back to our own childhoods and the silly, improbable dreams we had.
AusKick isn’t something millenials are particularly interested in. We’re too old by far too play ourselves, and many of us are too young to have to consider whether our kids will play soccer or join the local AusKick team. Yet the ad is for us just as much as anyone else. The product being sold isn’t AusKick. It’s a sense of community, it’s footy spirit and most of all, it’s NAB banking. Not only is it a sweet celebration of footballers at every stage of their sporting journey, it’s also a gentle reminder that it’s NAB who’s funding our future heroes’ first wonky kicks.
The campaign is running nationally over TV, digital, social and print media and even has a ‘guess the star’ game site dedicated to it. The obvious fun is in working out which footy great each Auskicker is dressed as. But it works on another, deeper level too. NAB Mini Legends also makes us wonder, without NAB sponsoring AusKick, which of these footy greats would still be playing? Suddenly, we owe NAB. They gave us Nat Fyfe and Cyril Rioli, Josh Kennedy and Ivan Maric. Who knows who else we are indebted to them for? For all we know, they gave us footy as we know it.
And this is where the real magic is. In this campaign, NAB has tied itself inextricably to our national sport and our national identity. From now on, NAB will always be an asterisk next to our favourite players’ name. That’s a lot of free advertising.