Bulldogs Fan & Hollywood Star Chris Hemsworth Fronts AFL’s New Season ‘The Bont’ Campaign

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Hollywood actor Chris Hemsworth stars in the launch campaign promoting the new 2017 AFL season fronting a spearhead commercial in which he pitches a movie about his beloved Western Bulldogs.


The integrated campaign – which spans TV, outdoor and press, plus digital and social – launched on 16 March ahead of the new season and aims to appeal to both new and old AFL fans.


Australian Hemsworth, a well-known AFL fan, shows his passion for the game in front of a meeting room of Hollywood executives whilst pitching a film called ‘AFL – The Movie’.


The spot, called ‘The Bont’ (the nickname of the Western Bulldogs star Marcus Bontempelli), leverages the Bulldogs first AFL title in 62 years and aims to showcase some of the game’s drama and fan passion ahead of the new season.


‘The Bont’ is positioned as the film’s central character and Hemsworth demonstrates his own fit to play the role by putting on the Bulldogs N. 4 jersey and showcasing his own football skills.


‘Down and out and missing their fearless leader those brave underdogs found victory. But now it’s 2017, new season, new battle,’ says Hemsworth as he pitches the movie as ‘a modern day epic’.


‘Will the Doggies go on to victory or will another team rise up and steal their crown? Nobody knows.’



The campaign also sees Bontempelli creative running on OOH billboards across Australia’s east coast, along with further executions featuring Sydney’s Josh Kennedy, West Coast’s Josh Kennedy and GWS forward Jeremy Cameron.


Hemsworth himself regularly promotes the sport and his Bulldogs fandom in interviews and through his own social media channels.


One image from last season saw the Thor star wearing his ‘Dogs guernsey’ gained an impressive 437,000 likes on Instagram.


Bulldogs yesssssss!!!!!!!!! #westernbulldogs @westernbulldogs #grandfinal #letsdothis

A post shared by Chris Hemsworth (@chrishemsworth) on


Bontempelli is also enjoying the fun and promoting the marketing push: tweeting his backing of Hemsworth and saying that the muscular actor was the ideal choice to portray him in the fictional film given their resemblance to one other.



‘He is a genuine superstar so it is pretty amazing to be part of this campaign. When I told my family, my sisters seemed more excited to see him in my jumper than me, he owes me one,’ comments Bontempelli.


Julian Dunne, the head of marketing at The AFL, explains that the broader AFL marketing campaign aims to highlight what makes the game ‘unique and spectacular’, ‘the live experience’,’ the incredible skills of the players’ and ‘the passion of the fans’.


‘The Western Bulldogs premiership win is one of the great sporting stories, and with Chris being such a huge Bulldogs fan, he was a natural fit,’ adds Dunne.


‘He was really passionate about the campaign and involved through the whole process, including the idea and the script. He was brilliant to work with and we were thrilled that he wanted to be involved.’


The campaign was developed for Dunne and his AFL (including marketing manager Tim Hirst and marketing brand advisor Emily Colman) by creative agency Cummins & Partners.


The Cummins team included executive creative directors Jim Ingram and Ben Couzens, senior art director Trent Hendrick, copywriter Tom Vizard, group account director Rod Mooseek, senior account director Steph Garner, senior producer Carol Sinclair and head of broadcast Chris Moore.


Production was handled by director Patrick Hughes, producer Kate Merrin, executive producer Corey Esse for the production company Finch, whils post production was handled by Crayon and sound by Risk.


The campaign is just part of the AFL’s marketing build-up to the new season: a programme that also includes a flagship season launch film called ‘Into The Fury’.


This 13-minute rights holder created film, in three acts, also tells the story of the Western Bulldogs’ history of heartache: from merger threats and injuries, to big game losses and finally the 2016 premiership triumph over Sydney.


It was created by filmmaker Peter Dickson: who edited through 50-plus hours of footage captured from film around the MCG on Grand Final day (including ultra slo-mo vision) to tell a compelling story.



Other pillars of the AFL’s new season launch programme ranged from events such as ‘Captains Day’,




and participatory streams like the Fantasy Draft,



to tools such as the AFL Live App,



as well as plenty of pre-season news and views,



plus community and cause programmes.



Activative Comment:


Hemsworth wont have come to cheap, but he certainly has both serious star pull and genuinely authentic fan credentials.


The campaign builds on the well known AFL 1990s ‘I’d like to see that’ ad campaign – an iconic campaign in Australian sports marketing history.


It includes the well-known tagline and the music from the original initiative which included global sports star appearances from huge names like Evander Holyfield, Hakeem Olajuwon, Carl Lewis and John McEnroe.



‘I’d Like To See That’ was also revived earlier this year for the launch campaign promoting the new AFL Women’s League earlier in 2017 (see case study).


This latest Hemsworth fronted ad has been met with some positive social comments by AFL fans.
















Cummins & Partners



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