A Wollongong family of basketball fanatics has shown why drawing on the community is a smart move for the Illawarra Hawks' new ad campaign.
Three weeks out from the NBL season opener the Hawks ad will start appearing across broadcast, digital and social media, featuring many members of the Illawarra community.
It digs heavily into local people and locations, featuring current players and historical footage behind the rallying call "we rise together".
In the clip, as at the Snakepit on game nights, it's hard to miss the De Bol family of Mount Pleasant, all seven of them proudly behind their team.
Luca, 14, is an Illawarra representative player and his sister Leki, 15, has taken it further, on the NSW Country team at the national championships in Perth this year.
"I think it's really cool how the Hawks are hand-in-hand with the community, doing training, camps and things like that," Luca said.
"The 'rise together' is really accurate because ... the community is supporting the Hawks and the Hawks are supporting the community together.
"It's cool to be part of this new campaign and I think the ideology of it is really good and really smart showing how the Illawarra rises together."
Luca said having the city's NBL team training at the Snakepit in Gwyneville was certainly a buzz for young players there at the same time.
"I've been around the Hawks for quite a while now, the local comp, and the atmosphere and environment is incredible.
"That's really really important with this 'rise together' thing - they're not like locked away on their own kind of Mount Olympus, away from everyone else, but where the community is surrounds them, whether it be training or in public and I think it's really, really cool."
Young basketballers, steelworkers, university students, Hawks superfans, cafe workers, surfers and players feature in the clip, to show that whether they be hard times or glory years the people of the Illawarra have always been there.
"The campaign is a celebration of our place, and I don't think we do that often enough", Hawks CEO Stu Taggart said of the new ad.
"It's a reminder of the privilege that the Hawks feel in representing this community on a national stage."
Leki De Bol said the ad's message reflected the city they call home. Her dad Garang came to Australia as a refugee from South Sudan and now has five basketball loving kids with wife Liz.
"It's a place where everyone can come together, all different backgrounds, all different interests or different nationalities, and we can just all come together and just be one," Leki said.
"The Hawks really represent that, especially with their different cultural backgrounds ... representing how Illawarra all rises together.
"I think it's really cool to be part of it because it's representing like the sport that me and my family loves the most.
"We've been around basketball for such a long time and so it's kind of cool to join together as a local community and cheer on the Hawks ... it's always fun watching Illawarra and I know that we're going to be in for a great season.
"We've got a few new players who are really, really cool and they look really exciting, like AJ Johnson, [Hyunjung] Lee and Gary Clark, so I reckon they'll just bond really well together as a team and we'll just go really well.
"I reckon they're looking pretty good."
Hours before the ad went live fans were shocked to see the Illawarra Hawks jerseys on sale via the NBL Shop - with the "Illawarra" missing.
This brought up the infamous 2021 episode when the region's name was removed from the Hawks' name altogether at the behest of the NBL, before a community campaign forced its reinstatement.
Taggart assured fans this time it was an "internal miscommunication" to blame and the name Illawarra would be on the away jerseys this year.
"The NBL24 Hawks away singlet will feature 'Illawarra'," a club statement said.
"The shirts promoted online earlier today without the region's name were produced in error. The team's NBL24 away uniform will proudly feature 'Illawarra', and the NBL24 merchandise range will also soon offer that option."
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