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By Ariel Pang
Thursday, Apr 6, 2017
Talk about tackling an issue, head-on. Insurer AIG's latest advertisement starring the New Zealand national rugby union team, popularly known as the All Blacks, has drawn both cheers and frowns from across the world for what critics call a promotion of violence, and for what supporters say is a creative take on a marketing message.
In the three-minute advertisement, members of the All Blacks tackle Japanese pedestrians, seemingly at random: a schoolgirl crossing the road and a lady cleaning the windows of a cafe are grabbed and thrown to the ground by an athlete without warning, while a driver finds a man barrelling in through her car's rear passenger window to land next to her child in the back seat.
The rugby players, however, are no villians, but rather superheroes in disguise, or thus the video hopes to portray.
A concrete mixer speeds through a pedestrian crossing, where the schoolgirl would have been had she not been grabbed by the athlete, and a car smashes into the cafe window where the cleaner was standing moments before.
Meanwhile, the player who barrelled into the woman's car buckles the child in and flashes the woman a big smile.
The message itself is simple: the All Blacks, as representatives of AIG, are forewarning and saving others from the risks and perils of everyday life, in line with AIG's latest campaign #TackleTheRisk.
According to The Wireless, AIG said the ad would "boost the All Blacks' profile in Japan in preparation of a more prominent involvement in the Japanese rugby market leading into 2019".
Many netizens were impressed with the uniqueness of the advertisement, with several Facebook users saying that the ad took them by surprise.
Others praised the ad's creativity, calling it "awesome".
However, the sentiment was not shared by everyone.
Anti-violence and anti-domestic abuse charity Shine's general manager, Jane Drumm, was reported as saying that she felt "really uncomfortable watching huge All Blacks tackling smaller Japanese people and throwing them forcefully to the ground".
According to Drumm, other staff members of Shrine agreed with her, with one saying that the advertisement glamorised violence and had "tenuous links to sport".
New Zealand Rugby has defended the ad in a statement, reported The Wireless.
"New Zealand Rugby and AIG have received overwhelmingly positive feedback for the new #TackleTheRisk campaign, which depicts All Blacks saving people from everyday hazards on the streets of Tokyo," it said.
"When viewed in context it is clear that the ad is about people's safety."