Telecommunications company Vodafone is attempting to channel the mistakes of disgraced former Australian Test cricket captain Steve Smith into something positive with a new campaign.
The ad, titled ‘Gutsy is calling’, looks at how Smith has responded to his 12-month ban from all international and domestic cricket for his involvement in the ball-tampering scandal that rocked Australia’s Test team, saw the withdrawal of sponsors, and even a hilarious parody video from Triple J.
The spot, created by WPP’s bespoke agency for Vodafone, Team Red, shows Smith playing grade cricket again, as well as footage of him apologising and breaking down at the press conference immediately following the ball-tampering scandal.
The ad also shows Smith talking to a group of schoolboys about the importance of opening up and having courageous conversations, as part of his ambassadorship for the Gotcha4Life school program with Triple M radio host Gus Worland.
However, Vodafone and Smith have come under a fair bit of criticism since the ad was released on Tuesday, with some saying it was wrong for both to be profiting from the cricketer’s cheating.
Appalling – Steve Smith plans to cheat, cheats, gets caught out, continues to lie about it, eventually apologises, and then uses mental illness to try to avoid/excuse/get sympathy for his actions.
— richard (@knutsfordchap) December 20, 2018
Message to kids. Cheat..Get a smack on wrist then exploit the hell out of it, regain position in team and keep exploiting the hell out of it
— Bob (@Bob65931143) December 20, 2018
Erm, hopefully the fees & revenue from this ad are being ploughed back into grass roots cricket. 🏏
— Robert Fairhead 📚🤔 (@tallandtrue) December 19, 2018
Good example of polishing a turd. Steven “Sandpaper” Smith gets a golden halo from one of his sponsors.
— Sam Varghese (@varghose) December 18, 2018
I am a Vodafone customer and now that I’m aware that Vodafone is associating and paying money / advertising fees etc. to a cheat I will seriously be considering changing over to another provider. You should be ashamed of yourself @VodafoneAU
— Straight up (@8678John) December 20, 2018
Vodafone told B&T that Smith is a paid ambassador of the telco, and that the commercial arrangement between the two is a long-term one.
Vodafone has signed on as a broadcast sponsor for the cricket this summer on Channel 7.