By Isabelle Walker
The Melbourne Rebels Rugby Club has released a new ad campaign targeting Buddy Franklin - the Hawks-turned-Swans Australian (Rules) Football League player who lashed out at the Rebels’ dismissal of James O’Connor (his good mate) in July last year.
When James O’Connor was unceremoniously dumped by the Rebels after notoriously bratty behaviour (which was not mitigated by an outstanding performance), Franklin took to twitter to defend his friend, saying the Melbourne side had used him as a “#scapegoat” for their subpar performance and that O’Connor was a “gd [sic] person with great heart and gd [sic] family morals”.
Today’s ad comes off the back of a tongue-firmly-in-cheek Valentine’s Day message from the Rebels to Buddy.
The Rebels took to the Herald Sun newspaper to go a little bit further than playful banter.
The Super 15 Rugby club ran an advertisement in the paper, essentially suggesting that Franklin really had no leg to stand on regarding ethics or loyalty given his defection to the Hawks’ 2012 Grand Final foes, lured north by a $10m, nine-year contract. “Anyway, we don’t need to discuss loyalty any further. No doubt you’re up there enjoying Bondi Beach a lot more than the Yarra but if you are visiting Melbourne on Friday 28th February come to AAMI Park and check out #biggerandbetterthings for yourself”, the Rebels said.
The fine line between facetious and nasty is a difficult one to tread, especially on social media, where your intended tone (successful and amusing when read correctly) could be lost on many irrational and vehement fans. Having said that, venting your frustrations on such a public forum is equally as risky.
The series of public jibes is no doubt part of a carefully constructed campaign that feeds off the public’s fatigue with entitled and petulant young sport stars. However, one wonders whether the high road is a better place to travel when so many public - and powerful - profiles are at stake.
Will Buddy see it all as a silly joke and respond with an equal amount of irreverence, or will this escalate into full scale code war? I for one am eager to see.