A 25 year old unemployed Offaly man is one of the unlikely stars in a new ad by mobile operator Three that airs today (Friday). The new 40 second ad is due to air on RTE, TV3, 3e, Sky and E4 in time for Ireland’s World Cup qualifying matches against Sweden and Austria on March 22 and 26. Three, which is the primary sponsor of the Irish football team, plumped for using real Irish football fans instead of actors in the commercial, which is how Walsh Island’s John Molloy got involved.
John is the last person to appear in the short ad. A Ireland football supporter since the age of five, he says he was bitten by the bug when he got the train from Portarlington to a game in Lansdowne against Mexico with his brother. Such is the extent of his enthusiasm for the Irish football team, John now goes to “every game in every campaign” and admits it leads to him being in debt by the end of the year. He collects all the match programmes, badges and flags and keeps them in a box under the bed awaiting a place on the wall.
John’s plans for travelling to Sweden are already in place and include an eight hour stopover in London and a stay in a boat hotel in Stockholm. He’s actually paying more money to return from Sweden early however, as he’s keen to watch the Offaly hurlers play Limerick.
Speaking about the new ad and the decision to cast members of the “You Boys in Green” fan club, Three’s Elaine Carey said they were inspired by the fans that travel all over the world to support their team. “Their reactions were amazing on the day,” she said. “They didn’t need to act. They just showed what they do every time they go to a match, every time they watch a match, every time they travel away to a match. Their emotion is what the true Irish fan is about and Three wanted to demonstrate that.”
Creative director at ad agency Boys and Girls Rory Hamilton said the idea for the “Ode to fans” ad came from watching footage of the European Championships, when Ireland were 4-0 down to Spain and suddenly the stadium was engulfed in a rendition of “The Fields of Athenry”.
“It was a spine tingling moment in world football,” he said. “Being an Irish fan in Poland can’t have been easy, yet there they were, putting their full support behind a beleaguered team. It encapsulated what support is about. It isn’t about winning or losing, it runs much deeper than that. Support is a positive act, regardless of the circumstances. ‘An Ode to fans’ is meant as a quiet celebration of Irish football fans, their trials and tribulations - the great moments and the bad.”