Merlin Balie - or better known as Elton
©2010 Talent Etc / Ivan Naudé
Player 23 images used with permission.
Spirit of '95 lives on in support of Bafana BafanaMerlin Balie - Born and raised in Paarl, Merlin Balie studied Drama at the University of Stellenbosch. Merlin then went on to make a name for himself in the Theatre Industry and has done productions such as Vatmaar, directed by Janice Honeyman, Bungee Writing Finals, Die Laaste Aand, Scribble and many more. Merlin played bad guy Werner in 7de Laan. His other TV experience includes: A Boy Called Twist (feature film), directed by Tim Green, Divers Down, More Than Just a Game (feature film), Luck (feature film) and Pasella to mention a few. Merlin has done numerous TV commercials such as Canon, Motorola, Nedbank, Old Brown, KFC, Hansa, Good Hope FM and more recently Vodacom Player 23 campaign as the character Elton. Merlin will soon also be making an appearance in popular Afrikaans soap, Binnerland Sub Judice.
More on the Player 23 campaign:
The greatest supporter of South African supporters, Vodacom, has summoned the spirit of the Rugby World Cup of 1995 as the perfect boost for Bafana Bafana ahead of their massive task on the world stage.
In the new Player 23 ad, which will be flighted for the first time during the broadcast of the Vodacom Super 14 match between the Vodacom Bulls and the Crusaders tonight, Vodacom’s beloved Player 23s Jan and Elton join up with a host of rugby legends from the 1995 Springbok World Cup winning team in a rap video giving tips to the footballers on how to win the golden trophy.
Dressed to the Nines with as much bling as Jan and Elton could manage, the ad includes 1995 World Cup heroes Kobus Wiese, James Small, Chester Williams amongst others as well as a special appearance in a Springbok fur robe by drop goal king Joel Stransky.
Jan opens with the line – “It’s the year 2010 and we’re gonna gooi like it’s 95 all over again!” with reference to the famous photograph of former State President Nelson Mandela handing the William Webb-Ellis trophy to Francois Pienaar, providing the perfect opening for a 60-second rap of wisdom – Player 23 style!
The advert, created by Vodacom’s advertising agency Draft FCB, was filmed in an air force hangar outside Pretoria and took an exceptionally fast two weeks turnaround time from the pitch to Vodacom to the final wrap.
According to Draft FCB’s Executive Creative Director, Grant Jacobsen the advert is specifically directed to the large and passionate rugby community to get them to get behind Bafana Bafana over the next two months.
“Basically we all know that Jan and Elton, as Player 23s, represent all rugby lovers in this country and the idea behind it was a manifestation of a hip hop rap video with the 1995 World Cup winning team in a very elaborate display of support,” Jacobsen said.
“We had a couple of thoughts to try and cross the success of the 1995 team in a tongue-in-cheek manner where Jan and Elton give some advice on how to win a very tough tournament.”
But while the fun and games of the ad is sure to be just as big a success as the other Player 23 adverts, there is a bigger cause that drives Vodacom in its quest to unite the entire country behind Bafana Bafana.
“The bigger campaign to get South Africans to ‘Join the voice behind Bafana’ is a call to arms for South Africans of all colours, race and creeds to understand that now is the time to get behind the national team.
“We realised that there is an enormous amount of rugby activity on the go between now and July and we thought, wouldn’t it be an amazing opportunity for advertisers to talk to rugby people and say ‘Wow! We need your support’. It can be an amazing statement of nation building.
“We wanted a proudly South African message to rugby fans to get them behind Bafana and we needed that to come from the most passionate of supporters - Player 23.”
Vodacom believes the idea of such an unexpected collage of characters, all in support of Bafana Bafana will strike an exceptional chord with fans across the country to join their voices behind the national soccer team.
“The obvious similarities in the excitement before the tournament with 1995 and the overwhelming odds that Bafana Bafana face over the next two months make it the perfect link with the 1995 Rugby World Cup Springboks and allows the ad to create a story that will appeal to fans,” Enzo Scarcella, Managing Executive of Marketing, Vodacom South Africa said.
“We hope it will entertain, delight and inspire every Player 23 in South Africa to ‘Join the voice behind Bafana’ and SMS their message of support to the team.”
Jacobsen said working with the 1995 Springboks was “amazing” as the players, many of whom are now successful businessmen, were so professional that it made filming a breeze.
“They were delighted to be part of it, and recognised the role they can play. They are icons of South African sporting success and their story is so universally powerful that Clint Eastwood recently captured it in the Oscar-nominated Invictus,” Jacobsen added.
While Elton and Jan have shown their true colours and are firmly behind the team, every other passionate Player 23 can join the voice behind Bafana Bafana as well.
Sms your message of support to 35600 and you could win a fabulous weekly prize and be in line to win the massive grand prize of R1-million.
Make the circle bigger. Join the voice behind Bafana Bafana like a true Player 23.
Click here to see the latest commercial