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How giving Petr Čech, Danny Welbeck & Per Mertesacker the gift of humour led to two viral vids for Europcar

By Katie Deighton | Senior Reporter

April 28, 2016 | 5 min read

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Arsenal footballers Petr Čech, Danny Welbeck and Per Mertesacker currently hold starring roles in Europcar's new online spots, which have so far received more than 2.5 million YouTube views after only a week since it broke.

The films aim to promote the car hire brand's sponsorship of Arsenal FC – a partnership that has been ongoing since 2014.

With a very limited (and, presumably, timed to the minute) access to the footballers on pre-arranged 'club days', sponsors are challenged to think creatively about how to get the most from their most valuable campaign asset in a matter of hours.

Last season, saw the brand unveil 'Face to Face with the Arsenal Family', a mockumantary featuring comic 'family members' of Per Mertesacker, Jack Wilshere and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. The four minute clip, which saw the footballers' facial characteristics superimposed onto actors, also spawned a behind the scenes film explaining how it was made.

Metesacker is "not surprised" by how well the video was received online – with the main spot racking up more than a million hits. "It was a different scenario that I’ve never experienced before," he told The Drum. "To see it the first time was weird."

Devised by agencies Sports at SMG and the group's content division, Liquid Thread, the ad saw the footballers themselves only appear in a couple of scenes. But this season, Europcar challenged itself to create a 2.5 minute spot that featured just three players taking a road trip in a hire car – and nothing else.

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Ken McCall, managing director of Europcar Group UK, said: “Following the great fan engagement achieved with season one’s 'Face to Face' video, we felt confident that we could go even further for season two. The 'Road Trip' concept in itself illustrates the mobility messages for which Europcar wants to become famous so we were happy to take an even more subtle approach with the branding.

"And this has paid off with views and positive feedback well in excess of season one thanks, in no small part, to the enthusiasm with which the players entered into the whole experience."

For Danny Welbeck, that hour-long filming experience "was easy, really".

He said: "We had a script and you could kind of say your own words in however you would say it. You just play along with it and have a bit of fun otherwise it’s not going to be too enjoyable. We had a bit of a laugh and just tried our best."

"We were really surprised by the creativeness from Europcar" Mertesacker agreed. "Sometimes [when] you go to shoot an advert it’s really boring but when you get surprised and when it’s really demanding then it’s a good challenge."

Letting Welbeck, Petr Čech and third roadtrip member Theo Walcott "just mess around really" - according to Welbeck – has resulted in 1.4 million YouTube views for Europcar, as well as more than 60,000 extra watches garnered by the behind the scenes and blooper spin-offs.

And for the players, it was an easy win for their own personal brands. "It's nice when people see you from a different perspective," said Cech. "A lot of people say, 'that Petr Čech guy is boring, he’s always serious' and suddenly you [show that you] can do the fun things too."

Watch the trio talk to The Drum about their experience filming the campaign in the video above

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