By Mark Stevens
Now we know the Exeter Chiefs have some mighty beasts within their playing ranks, but judging by these photos it seems a local conservation charity were happy to take that to a whole new level.
Paignton Zoo, who are long-time sponsors of the Aviva Premiership club, recruited the services of four Exeter players to help put an added bite to their forthcoming promotional work.
In a dazzling TV and photo shoot staged at the club’s Sandy Park Stadium, the quartet were spectactularly transformed into life-like animals for the new commercial, which was filmed by local film and production company Cineon Productions.
The fantasy body art turned winger Matt Jess into a mandrill; fellow flyer Fetu’u Vainikolo took on the role of a fleet-footed antelope, while back-row brothers Sam and Justin Blanchet became a cheetah and zebra respectively.
These incredible shots were taken by club photographer Phil Mingo of Pinnacle Photo Agency UK after the idea came from creatives at RH Partners, Paignton Zoo’s advertising agency.
Pippa Craddock, Paignton Zoo Director of Marketing & Development, explained: “It’s part of this season’s campaign which also includes posters around the ground featuring quirky animal facts.”
Kate Jenkins, from RH, said: “It’s based on the idea of survival of the fittest and natural selection, which seems to apply in both the animal kingdom and the rugby world, so it seemed natural to combine the two by painting the rugby players as wild animals that can be found at Paignton Zoo. We tried to choose animals that would reflect the idea of two teams – predators versus prey.”
For more information go to www.paigntonzoo.org.uk or ring 0844 474 2222.