AFL misses the mark with global-focused marketing push

John Davidson Roar Guru

By , John Davidson is a Roar Guru


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    People in Barcelona, China, New York and other parts of the globe should be watching the AFL this season according to the sport’s new TV advertisement (watch below).

    Yes the AFL has international ambitions; yes it is intent on growing the sport around the world. But this is pure folly.

    The 2013 ad is misguided at best.

    It focuses on the belief that if people from different parts of the world are exposed to AFL that they will be instantly amazed by the game and love it. It’s a tall order and a little disrespectful and naive.

    I’ve been to Barcelona, New York and Shanghai and Nanjing in China. I didn’t see any big AFL viewing audiences there. Maybe I went to the wrong bars and rooftops.

    AFL has a much stronger presence in places like Ireland, the UK, New Zealand and Canada, so it’s surprising they passed on these countries.

    The International Rules series has struggled for relevance recently, so maybe this is an attempted boost. By ignoring AFL’s fans at home in the ad though is somewhat of a risk.

    If the premise is to reflect its desire to be a global game, fair enough. Dream big.

    The flipside is that the statement ‘Wherever you’re from, there’s nothing like our game’ also has the message to people in Australia, regardless of your background, that AFL is for you. This is a smart play.

    The tagline ‘Australia’s game’ is a strong one. AFL is the only indigenous sport in Australia, created here, and that is a very powerful selling point.

    Using ACDC again, and the great song ‘Long Way To the Top’, is also a nice touch. This is a song synonymous with Melbourne, the cradle of Aussie Rules. But apart from that this TVC is a bit flat.

    In the past the AFL has created some fantastic ads, much better than the other footy codes in Australia.

    Last year’s effort was good. It spoke to the expansion of the game in Queensland and NSW, connected the grassroots and displayed its multicultural roots.

    The 2009 effort was a beauty. Featuring the Dropkick Murphys and AFL action interspersed with other sports, it was a visual feast.

    It really did demonstrate the toughness, strength and athleticism of AFL players. Ending with the tagline ‘In a league of its own’ really drove the message home.

    And who could forget this 1996 effort? The mixture of international celebrities marvelling at AFL was cheeky and fun. ‘I’d like to see that’ became the catchcry of a generation.

    Compared to these, the 2013 effort just doesn’t stack up. Yes it’s bold and ambitious, but it doesn’t entertain or engage like past ads. It’s not something that will really impress or get viewers to share around, which today is a sign of modern marketing success.

    Follow John Davidson on Twitter @johnnyddavidson

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