Wednesday, 13 February 2013

A Visual History of Cricket Marketing - Part 2 (the 1980's)

In part one of this series we looked at the drastic commercial changes wrought by World Series Cricket and the sudden influx of cash and commercial partners it brought to the game towards the end of the 1970's. 

After its initial struggles, the WSC became a runaway success and there were endorsements aplenty as we moved into the recklessly spending 80's. At this point, the cultural cachet of cricketers made them appealing to corporates looking to get a piece of the WSC action.  

In some cases, this helped launch iconic brands that endures today. In other cases, well...

1980 - Dennis Lillee Combat
Ok so this actually happened in December 1979, but I overlooked it in the last post so it is making an appearance here. Dennis the Advertising Menace was at his best here, bringing the half-baked idea of an aluminium cricket bat onto the Ashes stage, guaranteeing worldwide exposure for his new product, which it turns out, was a lemon.

What started out as a cheeky marketing stunt soon turned sour when he was asked to swap it for a willow one, not as many people believe at the request of English captain Mike Brearley, but by his own skipper who thought a three he hit should have gone for four.  I assume AB posed for the photo below because everyone else was too furious. This was actually the last documented incidence of Allan Border smiling until 1987.

1980 - Gray Nicolls Twin Scoop
Undoubtedly the most iconic bat brand of the 80's was the Gray Nicolls Scoop. I am wont to think about things like cricket bats on a deeply philosophical level and as such, I just think the Scoop is brilliant; they were essentially making you want a bat that offered you less, right? I read something years later about how it didn't totally make sense on an engineering level. Some of these bats weighed as little as 2 pound, 3 ounces. By comparison, Dave Warner bats with Gray-Nicolls Death-Star 3000's that need to be stored in a lockable gun rack and destroyed after use in most developed countries.

1980 - Cricket Jewelry 
In the 80's, in order to let people know you played cricket, it was no longer sufficient to grow a handlebar mo and drink your own body weight in Tooheys. Knowing this, jewelry makers jumped on the cricket bandwagon, dashing off some designs that are still to be seen around the necks of grizzled veterans in your local suburban cricket league.

I can't say I've seen these around the necks of international players since the early 90's but always smile when I spot one.

1982 - Allan Border for Esanda

"At Esanda, we've got something in common with Alan Border.... neither of us has played in a winning Ashes series yet."

I guess this is one of those ones where the manager says, "Hey AB, all they need is a stock photo, you don't even have to turn up."

"Where do I sign?"

1982 - David Hookes for Federation Insurance
Insurance was something that Hookesy probably thought about quite a bit after having his jaw reduced by powder by Andy Roberts during the early WSC days. 

I'm not sure what sort of pain killers they had him on, but they probably had a similar sedative impact as the copy for this 1982 ad. I think the people down at Federation Insurance needed to say, "Listen sideburns, less words, more Hookesy!"

1982 - Viv Richards for Stuart Surridge
"Ask the world's best batsman who makes the world's best bat." Or maybe ask him what he thinks of Craig McDermott and then just stand there with a bucket of popcorn. Is there a tumblr blog somewhere that just has photos of Viv Richards flaying Australian bowlers all over the park? - get onto it, someone.

1984 - County Umpires Counter
"So boss, you know how you said I had a limited budget to promote this new ball counter? Well I thought; what better than the endorsement of a famous umpire?"

"Dickie Bird?

"Ahhh no, Mel Johnson."

Could have been worse I suppose.

1984 - Gray-Nicolls "The Hookes Hurricane"
Who was the more iconic wielder of the Scoop; David Hookes or Greg Chappell? This is an actual argument I have had with someone. I'd have to conclude that GC became better known for his eponymous wide-brimmed hat.

1984 - Indoor Cricket Arena's
When it comes to 1980's advertising, it is sometimes the failed products and "what the hell is this?" moments that bring the most to the table. What's particularly pleasing about this one is the clear establishment of the cricketing hierarchy. Tangles obviously had no qualms about the bat being handed to Dougy, but you can get knotted if you think he'd lower himself to keeping.

"Go grab those gloves, Cose."

Mid 1980's - 'Test Match' Board Game
As far as I'm concerned, the cricket board game conversation begins and ends with 'Test Match'. First there was the 2D version where you slid the cardboard tabs backwards and forwards to reveal the runs or wicket resulting from a ball - a version particularly handy for the only-child or those banished to their bedroom for the rest of the night.

Then sometime in the 80's, the scale replica of the cricket ground, complete with felt outfield and real bowlers and batsmen came along. I received this as a Christmas gift in 1989 and it's still going strong. Recently I saw it in K-Mart and was horrified to note that despite being called 'TEST match', it now features players with coloured clothing. This is a worse crime against the game than Billy Baxter's Bet365 updates.

1985 - Allan Border for XXXX
It's always struck me as odd that the inhabitants of Bay 13 adopted VB as the liquid symbol of Australian cricket, because everywhere you looked in the 80's and early 90's, it was XXXX plastered all over player shirts and dressing rooms.

Here is AB demonstrating the only benefit of attending the 1985 Ashes tour; an unlimited supply of beer to make you forget that your likely batting partners the next day would be Dirk Wellham and Greg Ritchie.

1985 - BP
There's something ironic about British Petroleum telling us to "Go with the Green and Gold" in a year that the Poms pantsed us in the Ashes, but this is a surprisingly tasteful ad for the era. Also a reminder of how rubbish our One-Day uniforms are these days.

1985 - Esso Starwatch - Bruce Reid
Remember those days before Inverarity, the NSP and rotations where bowlers just kept going and going and never got injured at all? Yeah, they were great times. The best.

1985 - The County Supercat Legend for Clive Lloyd
First thing, the fact that Lloyd's face is impossible to make out is not the fault of my scanner, this is exactly as the ad appeared in magazines. Secondly, how is it possible that a top of the range cricket bat was ever $195? You have to check your credit card limit before you buy one now. 

I'd imagine this bat was a long handle. Many years before he developed Les-Favell-story-Tourette's, Ian Chappell always used to bang on about how many grips the Cat required on his bat handle. Actually, stick with Favell material, Chapelli.

1985 - David Hookes for Kookaburra
This ad confuses me completely, and there are only three possible explanations:

1. David Hookes briefly switched to a Kookaburra sponsorship and they didn't care that their ad featured him using his iconic Gray-Nicolls Scoop. Which would be pretty dumb.
2. Kookaburra struck a deal for him to use their gloves only. Which would be a bit sad.
3. His agent managed to trick Gray-Nicolls and Kookaburra into both sponsoring him at the same time. Which would be hilarious.

1985 - Doug Walters for Tooheys Lite
As you grow older and more cynical, you realise it's a near certainty that the advertising industry will try and sell you lies. Even so, copies of the old Trade Practices Act must have spontaneously combusted when this one hit the market.

This ad was shot from the waist up because the fire brigade were extinguishing Dougy's pants as he tried to convince us that he drinks light beer.

1985 - Esso
Twenty-eight years later Australia still has the challenge of developing natural resources, and twenty-eight years later, we still don't believe that a bloke named Steve Smith is one of them...

1985 - Gray-Nicolls Range
Pure and utter bat porn. I will never forget the day when one of my brother's mates brought around his Gray Nicolls twin-scoop to play in the backyard. We surveyed it like an object from Mars and then immediately decreed that it was too precious to be tapped on our concrete driveway. 

1985 - Lance Cairns for Newbery
Not even controversial opinion: Lance Cairns wasn't as good a cricketer as people mis-remember. But he did hit 6 sixes in a game against the Aussies and he's probably never paid for a beer since, so good luck to him. I'm not going to YouTube to confirm, but I'm pretty sure this was the bat he used during said deed. way to shoe-horn in a plug for your book too, Lance.

1985 - Max Walker's Cricket Game
If you thought that there was nothing worse than the books that Max Walker churned out in the 1980's, you are wrong. This one originally retailed for $32.95 which, adding inflation, seems like highway robbery. I picked up a copy for $2 at a garage sale as a kid and still ended up feeling like I'd done my dough. 

1985 - PBL Cricket "clobber"
There is nothing that signifies an ad from the 80's like the word "clobber". When people look at a slightly sexist ad now and say that its creators are "stuck in the 80's", I bet they've got something like these in their head. One of the funnier and just plain wrong sub-genre's of 80's cricket ads is the "sexy cricket woman". Typified by the famous Nicky Buckley poster that was de rigueur in club rooms and indoor centres in the period, the whole concept of a woman being sexy in cricket pads is just too hilarious to take seriously (and no, I couldn't find a picture of Nicky anywhere).

1985 - Trevor Barsby for Symonds
Who was blazing up more heavily, Trevor Barsby prior to this photo shoot, or the boss at Symonds who decided that he'd use Trev for this full-page ad instead of Tubby Taylor or Steve Waugh?

1985 - Geoff Lawson for Tooheys Draught
I'm not sure what is more implausible; that a renowned teetotaller was considered a candidate for a 1980's beer ad or that they chose a bloke that no-one would want to have a beer with even if he did drink.

1986 - CBC Radio Coverage
Apologies for the Lawson one-two, but I just had to post a reminder to the world that Dennis Cometti, Slug Jordan, Kerry O'Keefe and Blowers were once in the same commentary box.

1986 - Dirk Tazelaar for Kookaburra
Some consider Dirk one of the unluckiest bowlers to not manage a Test cap for Australia. He did however did join one esteemed club; Australian cricketers whose foreign surnames were misspelled on a regular basis.

1986 - Greg Dyer for Albion C&D
"Whether I'm batting or keeping on an a matting wicket in the outer suburbs, I always make sure I wear my baggy green."

1986 - Malcolm Marshall for Trax Shoes
Cards on the table time; Malcolm Marshall was my childhood hero and I would literally pay someone $300 for a pair of these shoes. I would then have one of them bronzed and place it in a slightly more prominent position on the sideboard than photos of the family and all that other crap.

1986 - Max Walker for Tooheys Lite
Poor old Max; all dressed up and no-one to play darts with. Can anyone confirm that this endorsement was the immediate by-product of the howls of outrage when Doug Walters was promoting light beer?

1987 - Dav Whatmore for Stuart Surridge
"Get your body into SS gear, just like Dav did with the aid of a tub of KY jelly and a spatula." This ad was actually the sole inspiration for the inventor of Spanx.

1987 - Gray Nicolls Twin Scoop
In an art gallery. Where it belongs.

1987 - Greg Matthews T-shirts
No-one in the history of advertising can have been more traumatized than the girl in this photo. You can imagine all the crazy cats and funky dudes hangin' out in these things though, man. Again, if you have one of these masterpieces in your cupboard at home you know where to find me, loyal readers.

1987 - Rod Marsh for Kookaburra
There is no greater indicator of the Tim Zoehrer legacy than this ad, Kookaburra choosing to go with the 3 years retired Marsh over poor old Ziggy. Please do not leave any libelous Tim Zoehrer stories in the comments section.

1987 - Unisys
One for the stats nerds and everyone else who is immediately comforted by the sight of a Unisys scoreboard display graphic when they watch 'World Series Classics'.

1987 - Greg Ritchie for The Carphone Group
"Greg, I have a 3 point plan for your career, mate: 1. Keep performing at a high level for Australia. 2. Stand in front of an elephant with a ridiculously large mobile phone in your hand. 3. Count all the stacks of money."

I bet this was the first time that poor animal felt like it was being well hidden from game hunters. How is it even possible that Greg Ritchie went on to even more embarrassing moments than this? We will examine this further in Part 3 - The 90's.

1988 - Wayne Phillips Cricket Coffins
Charmingly amateurish, but also quite symbolic of Phillips' career, which was well and truly dead at this point. The fact that they opted for black and white says it all.

1988 - Telecom Cricket Sportsfone
If your kids ever stop laughing from your explanation of what a VCR was, remind them that you could once go to a telephone that plugged into the wall and call a four digit number to get the cricket scores. They'll want proof so you can show them this.

1988 - The Adidas Dean Jones Collection
In order to woo Michael Jordan to sign to his fledgling brand, Nike CEO Phil Knight had brand new cars parked outside their meeting for both Jordan and his father. Not long after, Adidas was thrilled  to secure the services of Dean Jones with $3000 and a meat tray.

1988 - Dean Jones for Kookaburra
Fresh off the "Meltdown in Madras", Dean Jones was hot property to sporting brands. Kookaburra liked him so much that they let him write his own advertising slogans.

1988 - Steve Waugh for Dunlop
As I already explained, cricket marketing has a rich history of awful puns. The Waugh brothers presented the advertising guys with a temptation too good to pass up and thus us, the long-suffering public, had to endure such 'declarations of Waugh' for the good part of 20 years. Putrid.

1988 - Peter Keller Internit
"I just think it's so great that a company is finally acknowledging that us female cricketers are highly talented professionals. I really want to thank you for giving us this opportunity to be taken seriously as sports people for once..."

"Hang on love, I just have to let the other model in."


1989 - Steve Waugh for Gunn & Moore
Nearing the end of the 80's, it is only fair to include the blade that savaged English bowlers and started the legend that is Steve Waugh TM.

For the 25 bowlers England that rotated through Tugga on that '89 Ashes tour, I'm sure this is a mental image that only a really good hypnotist could get rid of. Those were the days.

1989 - Merv Hughes - Kleenex
"So Nicole, what's happening after we finish up here then?"

"At a guess Merv, I'd say you'll be working your way through quite a bit of the sponsor's product."

1989 - Viv Richards Slazenger V100
We were all sorry to see Viv stop using the SS Jumbo, but he then helped make the Slazenger V100 into an equally iconic bat. If I have a complaint about this ad, it's that we need more Viv.


  1. Random thoughts and reminisces:
    - That Federation Insurance is almost comically offensive to good graphic design. Everything about it is wrong.

    - Is that Alderman in the '85 BP ad? His back arm looks a little high, but the front is correct. Did they sign up his image rights only for him to head off for a rebel tour?

    - I have the 2D Test Match at home (the 3D is at my parents). Looks brilliant. Almost unplayable as a game. At some point before the blessed day when we got our own Test Match game my brother and I created a lego version and set it up in the lounge-room. We used colour, the Windies with the red stripe, Australia in yellow. I think we spent longer building it than playing though.

    1. Yeah the Federation one is a stinker, Russ. I think the BP one is probably an artist's amalgamation I reckon.

      I always found the problem with Test Match version 2 was losing the ball. Check out The Holy Boot's Foitball Emporium for a great 'Test Match' grandstand.

  2. Damn it if I can't unearth that Nicky Buckley poster! Though I suspect it's not as good as I remember.

    Superb compilation - not just the vast array of memories but what you made of them Rusty with some very pithy observations and anecdotes.

    And I love the Chapelli-Les Favell Tourette's syndrome line. Gold. And that's the 24ct Viv chain gold, not the XXXX variety!

    1. Cheers Jeff, for such an iconic image, it is weird that no-one has put that Nicky Buckley poster up. Brings back memories of pre-season's at the indoor nets!

  3. Some great images and memories amongst that lot, Russell. I can see more than a few wasted afternoons have been spent pouring over those old cricket mags. That Nicky Buckley image was for 'Straight Six' bats if I remember correctly. I've been buying old cricket mags trying to find that ad and if I do I now know there's at least a few people who might find it as amusing as I do. Russell, is it possible to get your e-mail address? I wanted to ask you about the old KIngsgrove catalogues. Mine's

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  11. Not sure about your dates here on the Gray Nichols scoop and twin scoop bats.. I worked at Grays from 1978 to 1979 making the scoops, in fact I remember John Newbery himself bringing the double scoop with him to a midweek match at Rye as early as 1997.., and I was using a scoop bat myself at school in 1976, so they were not an 80's bat, so your summary is incorrect..