Rocky Balboa Stars in New Ladbrokes Ad

Posted on: September 13, 2022, 12:49h. 

Last updated on: September 13, 2022, 06:22h.

Film and boxing legend Rocky Balboa has been an enduring figure since 1976, and isn’t going away. The Sylvester Stallone character, who left his mark more than once on the big and small screens, is now again appearing on the small screen through gaming operator Ladbrokes.

Rocky II
A familiar scene from Rocky II, with Sylvester Stallone running through the streets of Philadelphia. Ladbrokes has converted Rocky’s run into a new commercial, complete with a 2022 cast. (Image: IGN)

Rocky is appearing in a new commercial for the operator, according to The Mirror. It isn’t the 76-year-old Sly himself, however. Instead, it’s a recreation of an iconic scene from 1979’s Rocky II.

Perhaps for that reason, Ladbrokes turned to Rocky as its protagonist. In Rocky II, Rocky runs through the streets of Philadelphia as his fans fall in behind him. Eventually, he dashes up the steps of Philly’s Museum of Arts, where he punches the sky with his fists in honor of his achievement.

Ladbrokes, like Rocky, knows what it’s like to be dealt blow after blow. It, and its owner Entain, have received numerous punches in the UK and elsewhere over the years.

Ladbrokes managed to pull off a similar accomplishment when it enlisted Rocky for the commercial. What started with footage from the movie ended with Rocky running in front of a crowd of athletes from different sports. There was even a Formula 1 race car and a racehorse, items not seen in the original.

Special Effects

The ad, of course, was a digital recreation. At the hands of Danish filmmaker Nicolai Fuglsig, director of the Chris Hemsworth flick 12 Strong, editors removed the original cast – minus Rocky – piece by piece. Then, with the help of LiDAR (light detection and ranging), the crew could put together a working model of the streets of Philadelphia.

From there, 250 athletes and actors came together to “run” behind Rocky, just like in the original movie. They were, however, actually performing inside a hangar in Budapest, Hungary.

By the time the commercial was ready, six months had passed, and 15K hours had been spent recreating the visual effects.

Stallone reportedly approved of the use of Rocky by Ladbrokes. He didn’t have to legally, as he doesn’t own rights to the films. But it’s always a good idea to have Rocky in your corner.

A Team Effort

The idea was the brainchild of creative ad agency Neverland. Ladbrokes liked what it saw, especially since it pushed the envelope on commercial development.

Neverland cofounder and acting executive creative director Jon Forsyth pointed out that pushing the envelope would be the only acceptable option. The company had worked on Ladbrokes projects, each attempt to be bolder than the last.

I knew I’d be signing up [for] a hell of a journey with pitfalls at every step, but leaping in my mind to the likely end result, I felt this was going to be epic. I’m a big Rocky fan and to take an icon, the most famous run in movie history and mix it all up? I was all in,” said Ladbrokes UK Brand Marketing Director James Kennedy.

The ad, which can be viewed here, doesn’t discuss gambling. It doesn’t go out of its way to try to convince viewers to wager on the next big race. What it does, however, is making hundreds of thousands of people pay attention.

Anyone familiar with the Rocky franchise will instantly recognize the song, Gonna Fly Now. If they’re not already looking at the TV screen, they will when the music starts. For some companies, that level of attention is pure gold.