Man against Machine (or, more specifically, elite sportsman versus humorous robot) is a tried and tested format and The European Tour is the latest to adopt it as a creative approach for its new campaign.
First there was Gary Kasparov tackling IBM’s Deep Blue chess computer, now there is golfing superstar Rory Mcllory taking on a golf ball hitting machine.
This new film, part of the European Tour’s ongoing ‘Every Shot Imaginable’ campaign, builds on an incident from Mcllroy’s childhood years when he appeared on a Northern Irish chat show on UTV as an eight year old demonstrating his indoor domestic training technique of chipping golf balls into his washing machine.
The Tour takes the former world number one onto a driving range and challenges him to beat a robot called Jeff at hitting balls into washing machines set out across the course.
The machine is from independent US testing outfit Golf Laboratories – which tests golf equipment for many of the world’s top manufacturers.
As well as an accuracy competition, the spot also sees Mcllory’s banter up against that of the robot’s jokes (voiced by comedian Geoff Norcott) as the two tease one another by trading friendly insults.
Oddly enough for a European Tour marketing campaign, developed by agency Saatchi & Saatchi (written by Laurence Quinn and Michael Campbell, art directed by Mark Norcutt and Greg Martin, and directed by Kevin Hutchins through Motion Picture House and Caramel Pictures), the ad is actually filmed at the PGA National Resort & Spa in Florida.
The four-minute spot is hosted on the European Tour’s ‘Every Shot Imaginable’ YouTube page.
It might be four minutes long, but the spot feels fairly natural and has a sense of reality about it that leads to a blend of believability and entertainment to drive viral spread.
Within two weeks of the clip’s launch it has gained almost 3 million YouTube views.
Originally, the ‘Every Shot Imaginable’ initiative first began in 2010 with four golfers – Rhys Davies, David Howell, Paul McGinley and Marcel Siem – skimming a ball 200 yards across a lake to hit a floating 9-inch gong.
The next challenge in the campaign saw Johan Edfors, David Horsey, Thongchai Jaidee and Simon Khan trying to hit a clay pigeon from the sky with a golf shot.
This was followed by the gunpowder shot and the magicians challenge at Gleneagles last year.
The ‘Every Shot Imaginable’ YouTube channel, which also features out-takes plus extra content from the Tour, has had 13.5 million views.
Rory vs The Robot YouTube
European Tour Website
European Tour Every Shot Imaginable YouTube Channel