Here in Australia a couple of star players from the National Rugby League (NRL) code have signed multi-million dollar deals to switch football codes and play Australian Rules Football (AFL), a very different sort of game.
It’s almost akin to a US basketball star at the peak of his career switching to play baseball – but they’re no Michael Jordan.
Various commentators have been outraged at this and many people have been debating whether the players in question, Karmichael Hunt and Israel Folau, will be good enough to adapt and be successful at Australian Rules Football.
Hunt & Folau Playing AFL – Nothing to Do With Playing AFL
The issue most people have missed here is that signing these 2 star players isn’t because they might be good at Australian Rules Football.
They won’t be – neither of them will be anywhere near good enough to succeed at AFL level (what the hell would those footy scouts know!).
They’ve been signed for 1 very simple strategic reasons:
3 Major Marketing Strategies
With that we have 3 aspects:
1. These players have massive profiles in the NRL and their defection to AFL has caused a media storm – exactly what they were signed for. Money cannot buy the sort of exposure these 2 blokes have provided.
2. Add in that both players are going to new clubs in new areas where the AFL wants to expand to – in a surprise to no-one, these 2 areas are where the NRL already has a decent foothold.
Lots of the local kids in these areas look up to Hunt and Folau and will be tempted to give this AFL a try to see what it’s like. They’ll identify with them because they’re from their same area and have a massive profiles.
3. The icing on the cake is that the defection of these 2 stars further weakens the NRL.
Pretty soon the NRL will be grouped in with Basketball and women’s Netball as sports the majority of Australians are aware of, but don’t pay too much heed to.
It’s fast becoming a second tier competition because of this and the continual appalling behaviour of the players and clubs, where they seem to try and alienate every fan they have.
So if you feel the rise of indignant outrage at Hunt and Folau heading to the AFL, remember it’s just basic marketing:
- Get the markets attention – Done
- Give the target market a taste of your product – the kids will now go along to watch an AFL game and/or participate – Getting done
The benefits will far outweigh the money paid for these 2 hired guys who seem to have no loyalty to any club or game.
The challenge for the AFL is to manage the fall out amongst it’s own players when they see that 2 guys who won’t even be any good, are the highest paid players in the league (but that’s more about promotional duties than actually being any good at the game).
Remember fellas, it’s just business. It’s all about the power of the personal brand.