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The Roar


Can the A-League learn from reality TV to market itself?

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Roar Guru
1st October, 2019

The marketing for this year’s A-League is practically invisible, with reports an advertising campaign was pulled at the last moment because not everyone would sign off on it.

Whereas once we had just the FFA ticking the boxes, we now have 11 stakeholders thanks to the newly independent A-League.

Imagine a committee of 12 Australian football organisations not all pulling the same way? Who’d have thunk it?

According to reports, some stakeholders objected to using Craig Foster as he was considered too football-centric – an odd call considering he has a credibility that transcends the sport.

What happened to the good old days of A-League marketing? Remember the ‘Football but not as you know it’ campaign. That was pretty funky.

There were more skateboards and graffiti than match action, although we had Dwight Yorke as well. Bling and cool were a winning combination.

Then we had Yoshi. Remember how exciting that was. Everyone was talking about what team he would pick to support.

We could hardly believe it when he eventually chose the A-League’s number one community club in Melbourne City.

Last year was all about the Usain Bolt show. Didn’t that bring the clicks in. Considering how well Central Coast Mariners fared, it was probably a lost opportunity.


This year’s build-up has been hush-hush. Now we are playing friendly matches behind closed doors. What a master stroke this is. None of us have any idea how our teams are going or who is even playing.

All involved have probably signed waivers not to reveal a thing. We can only speculate – and speculation is great social media fodder.

Melbourne City fans

(Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

Will Melbourne Victory turn up to the derby wearing City’s sky blue and vice-versa? Anything’s possible given the lack of advertising coming out of headquarters.

For this year’s invisible marketing, I’d like this idea of secrecy pushed further. Something like The Masked Singer.

The latest commercial TV sensation sees a bunch of second and third-rate celebs dress up in masks and sing to a bunch of other celebs who try to guess who they are. At the end of the episode, the crummiest singer takes off their mask.

Poor old Lindsay Lohan looks out of her depth here. She feigns surprise as though she has no idea who the masked singer is. The truth of course is that she doesn’t. I don’t imagine Lindsay had many Brett Lee posters in her bedroom as a kid.


Could this approach work for the A-League? Imagine Western United taking their first penalty of the season and we find out that the parrot taking the spot-kick is Besart Berisha.

Maybe we could leverage the TV show. On the episode just before the season starts, the goat could be revealed as none other than Tim Cahill. Social media would go into meltdown.

And maybe that’s where the solution lies. Social media campaigns can be extraordinarily effective. Look at the ‘Big big sound’ caper with Greater Western Sydney.

I cottoned on early that it was a beat-up to give the new club some ‘character’ and give indifferent Melbournites a reason to hate the Giants. The AFL must have lapped it up. It was effective and cheap.

The A-League’s so-called marketing debacle might end up being a classic piece of reverse psychology. My social media feed is now full of people talking about the lack of advertising, which is morphing into something resembling… advertising.

The fans are talking.


There just may be a silver lining to this shambles.