The seventh series of AIB’s popular GAA documentary platform The Toughest has been launched. With lockdown restrictions applying to the sporting world over the past few months, however, this year’s series sees the on-field action taking a back-seat in favour of the communities and the behind-the-scenes volunteers around the country who make it all possible.
Created by Rothco | Accenture Interactive, “The Toughest Summer” is told over five online episodes, concluding with a feature-length documentary which will be broadcast on RTÉ One on Tuesday 25th August. The series is part of AIB’s long-standing sponsorship of the GAA and the first episode features TJ Reid, the well-known Ballyhale Shamrocks and Kilkenny hurler.
First launched back in 2013, The Toughest has seen professional players from the NHL, the NFL as well as players from the world of cricket, rugby and soccer try their hands at Gaelic football, hurling and camogie while other notable highlights have included football managers Harry Redknapp and Gianluca Vialli managing GAA teams.
In order to capture the 2020 series, Rothco worked with the award-winning documentary director, Ross Whitaker and production company, Antidote – to shoot the series safely during the lockdown and 16 different counties feature in the 2020 series.
According to Michael Dargan, head of consumer marketing, AIB: “AIB’s #thetoughest campaigns have gone from strength to strength over the years and this year has been no exception, despite it being the toughest yet for GAA and for sport sponsorship in general. We are thrilled to be launching this campaign with Rothco and Ross, to bring a unique insight into how GAA players, supporters and communities across the island of Ireland have risen to the challenges of 2020 and displayed the toughness and humanity needed to emerge stronger than ever. The art and craft of storytelling has been captured by Ross in a truly magical manner and we are proud to be able to bring these stories to people in both short-form and long-form across linear broadcast, social, and on-demand channels. We continually ask our creative partners to find ways to break with convention and this year they have pushed the creative envelope further than ever with this latest work.”
Ray Swan, creative director at Rothco | Accenture Interactive adds: “AIB’s #TheToughest has always been about documenting the passion, tenacity and indomitable spirit of the GAA both on and off the pitch. We’ve always had the cameras rolling, never fully knowing the outcome of any particular piece of work we were creating. “The Toughest Summer” is no exception. Documenting the GAA in a time when there are no games – right through the summer, from the deserted pitches, right through to the tentative return to training. It’s not a COVID-19 story – it’s a GAA story. It’s a story about the bonds that tie the community together. Bonds that, when tested, become even stronger. We still don’t know how it will end. No one does. And that’s testament to the great relationship we have with our friends in AIB – we’re one team on this.”