NRL claims ‘Rugby League’s got a hold on me’ in ad starring Jessica Mauboy

NRL adThe NRL has launched an ad campaign to mark the start of the 2013 season, with a dance anthem performed by Jessica Mauboy.

The campaign, created by MJW, features young women playing the game at school and on the beach, specifically designed to target females as part of a broader “whole of game” brand promotion the NRL has adopted. The past focus of ads was mainly on players.

It is the first time a female has fronted an NRL campaign since Tina Turner’s hugely successful Simply The Best ads were launched in 1989.

The female targeted ad ironically breaks on the day that Sydney’s Daily Telegraph ran a front page splash where star Bulldog’s player Ben Barba’s wife – who he recently separated from – denied extensive social media rumours that he had assaulted her.

A series of 30 and 60-second TV ads, featuring the words ‘Rugby league’s got a hold on me’ to the tune of Mauboy’s ‘Something’s Got a Hold on Me’, a cover of an Etta James classic, will be combined with retail activation, outdoor, press, radio and digital activity.

Meanwhile Mauboy’s ‘Something’s Got a Hold on Me’ is to be released by Sony Music next week.

The campaign also invites NRL fans to edit their own version of the ad at and share it with friends through social media.

“The campaign has aligned itself to the game’s strategic plan with particular emphasis placed on showcasing the values of the sport, while continuing to broaden the appeal of the game’s showpiece event, the Telstra Premiership”, MJW’s MD Paul McKay, said.

Mauboy said in a press release: “The NRL is my game, I love it. Performing two years ago at the NRL Grand Final was a career highlight, so to be part of the advertising campaign for the season is incredibly special.”


  1. WD
    27 Feb 13
    1:20 pm

  2. Like it. Clever, punchy and family-friendly (THE prerequisite of any NRL launch these days!)

  3. NJK
    27 Feb 13
    1:45 pm

  4. Lame. When I think NRL, I don’t think Jessica Mauboy, I don’t think about sugary pop songs, I don’t think about running down a footpath as a kid kicking a football (that’s what parks are for) and I don’t recall ever seeing girls in bikinis playing league on the beach. Why do these promos always have to be “all-inclusive” beyond all realms of reality?

  5. Rob R
    27 Feb 13
    1:51 pm

  6. Nice, VFX are good and it’s certainly broader. Might annoy the hardcore but they don’t watch footy for the ads.

  7. Just sayin...
    27 Feb 13
    1:51 pm

  8. Nice work…that last pass was forward though!

  9. ivan ardon
    27 Feb 13
    1:58 pm

  10. Bring on kick off. Nice choice of talent. She is a good Aussie role model. Saw her at the all stars game. Inspirational stuff.

  11. Billbored
    27 Feb 13
    2:00 pm

  12. Nice spot.
    Not sure about the song.

  13. Kelly
    27 Feb 13
    2:21 pm

  14. Not quite ‘Simply the best’ or ‘That’s my team’, but not a bad effort either. Nice to see the NRL reaching out to the young ‘uns, especially young women, in this campaign.

    Unfortunately the ‘Make your own ad’ seems to have a few teething problems… a nice idea though, hope they get it up and running soon.

    Go Bunnies!

  15. MR T
    27 Feb 13
    2:24 pm

  16. Does the tagline “Got a hold on me” highlight increased rates of domestic abuse amongst NRL fans?

  17. Geepers
    27 Feb 13
    2:35 pm

  18. NICE ONE

  19. WD
    27 Feb 13
    4:05 pm

  20. Hey NJK, then you clearly ain’t heard about sponsorship. Telstra, Subaru, Toyota, Steggles, Alliance, St George, NRMA etc (ALL of whom sponsor NRL teams) are NOT going to put their names to a bogan, lad-driven ad like you suggest. Mauboy is sweet and doesn’t upset the sponsors and their billions of dollars….. Remember, NRL’s a “family game” regardless of what you think!

  21. Pete
    27 Feb 13
    4:37 pm

  22. Great ad, well done NRL and MJW.
    @ NJK “I don’t think about running down a footpath as a kid” Are you serious, how do kids get to parks? Maybe just maybe on a footpath throwing the ball around trying to emulate their idol. Beach football also a foreign concept.

  23. Elbogrease
    27 Feb 13
    5:13 pm

  24. @NJK Your right mate i have never seen a bunch of girls passin the pill down the beach. Why do marketers pretend otherwise?

  25. woops
    27 Feb 13
    9:39 pm

  26. and just to cap it off, the new CEO referred to Barba as Benji at the season launch. Not one shot in the film clip seems to be in Victoria – just drop the N from the title as well.

  27. Rob R
    28 Feb 13
    8:23 am

  28. @woops… Wow hard to please champ, there’s more Storm shots than any other side.

  29. Kimberly Diamonds
    28 Feb 13
    10:00 am

  30. I am sure the bogan-target-audience will love it

  31. truthfully
    28 Feb 13
    11:50 am

  32. Nothing too attract new fans, nor elicit pride in existing ones. Without any creative idea or intrigue it’s simply a collection of “intended target audience’ shots that don’t lead us anywhere. Sorry, but a brand of this size needs much better work.

  33. LAME
    28 Feb 13
    2:38 pm

  34. NRL is DEAD, NEXT!

  35. Jamie
    28 Feb 13
    4:54 pm

  36. I am with NJK. Not so much about the footpath running or beach football – but Jessica Mauboy is a completely disconnected sponsor. Of course, the way the NRL has gone the last couple of years is it any surprise their “star” would be a Channel 9 contract?

    I mean really, at every major game over the last two years the NRL has regurgitated it’s contracted talent. Two years straight at State of Origin, Internationals and Grand Final’s – all existing Channel 9 talent.

    I mean really. It is pathetic. It’s lazy. It’s cheap. The NRL will never offer a Tina Turner or Hoodoo Gurus again while they are so adamant on keeping it within their partners ranks.

    It isn’t about this ad being family-friendly or women-focused, I welcome that approach – it’s not like male fans of NRL are going to be turned off the sport because of the ad – but some women/families might be turned on by an apparent change of focus.

    BUT, Hoodoo Gurus and Simply the Best were family friendly/orientated campaigns too – it isn’t about their approach here – it’s about the quality of their message.

    NRL haven’t had a successful campaign launch in nearly a decade, since That’s My Team. Keep trying, NRL.

    Maybe next time take it to an agency that knows the sport.

  37. thugby
    1 Mar 13
    2:36 pm

  38. woeful song. it’s sure to spawn many youtube fan vids like this

    2013 NRL TV AD – the funky version