Any current or ex-football players – or any team sport players for that matter – will be familiar with the humble training vest. It’s a seemingly valueless piece of kit. It’s just a flimsy garment that gets torn, trampled on, filthy, worn to the point of (an oddly nostalgic) foul stench. But in reality, they’re an essential part of any team. They allow a team to train properly, have the ability to keep one player off a pitch and another on it, and have caused public embarrassment for some of the biggest names in sport. They’re not so humble after all.
And that’s exactly the sentiment behind this ING Bank campaign by J. Walter Thompson Amsterdam. To celebrate the bank’s sponsorship of Dutch football, JWT co-ECDs Bas Korsten and Marcel Hartog (both football nuts, players and coaches) have turned the training vest into an almost-sentient being, a force to be reckoned with. It didn’t fail to make LBB’s football fans and players crack a smile.
LBB’s Addison Capper excitedly chatted with Bas to find out more.
LBB> This spot brought back so many (stinky) memories! Tell us about the memories that inspired the campaign?
BK> Marcel, my co-ECD at J. Walter Thompson Amsterdam, and I are big football fans. Marcel still plays and I have played and now coach. So when the brief came in, we knew who was going to work on it. And that is what you feel in this film. The suffering, the hardship of training, the locker room jokes. It’s made by people who love and know football.
LBB> When did the idea first spring to mind to praise the vest as such an imperative piece of kit?
BK> The vest feels like the least important piece of kit. But the great thing is that although the vest leads a pretty agonising life for most of the year, a few times a year it decides who will play and who won’t. We played on that juxtaposition for this spot.
LBB> I really like how you’ve almost personified the vest – it becomes almost as much part of the team as the player. Would you say that was one of your intentions? Why?
BK> A vest is a lifeless object. Our main intention was to give it life in this film. To make you feel emotional about it, even though it’s just a piece of cloth.
LBB> How was it for you personally, as a football fan, to develop this campaign?
BK> It was great being able to use your own experiences as a player to bring this idea to life.
LBB> It’s an epic film - how tricky was it to produce something like that about such a humble item?
BK> You have to balance the melodrama just right. You want people to feel something for something that they normally would never have feelings for. It also meant focusing on the vest and minimising the amount of human faces.
LBB> Why was Ismael the right director to bring the idea to life?
BK> Funnily enough, Ismael is not a big football fan. But he really took to the idea of giving life to something lifeless. We really complemented each other.
LBB> What are your fondest memories from producing this campaign?
BK> It was very cold when we shot this film. To make it worse, the rain machine sprayed super cold water on the football players while they had to do slide after slide. I felt sorry for the guys. So we bought them beers afterwards and we had fun. Just like after a normal match.