Sunday 4 January 2015

Cricket advertising - an update

I'll avoid starting this one by promising that I'll take care of this blog a little better in 2015, because I know I won't. I managed 53 separate posts on here in 2013 (how on earth did I have that much time on my hands?) and then just a paltry 5 last year as work and life tended to eat into my novelty-picture-scanning time. In those few posts I did last year I made hollow promises about being more prolific, because obviously it's vital that the world gets all of the nude Shane Watson photos it thirsts for. This time I make no guarantees. I'm sure you'll all survive.

Anyway, I'll cut to the chase. When I started this blog I had a very vague plan to cover the visual side of cricket - marketing, advertising, sponsorship and all associated guff - but that fell by the wayside last year and I didn't actually cover the world of cricket-themed print ads at all in 2014. Not one single update. So this is my attempt to redress. 

I've culled these from the magazines that piled up over the course of the last 12 months (there might be a bit of late-2013 overlap but I've tried to avoid that), both Australian and UK titles, and though the results are probably underwhelming when you compare them to the glory days of 70s and 80s ads, they do at least - in my humble opinion - tell a bit of a story about the state of the game itself (plus magazine publishing; those poor bastards) in Australia and England.

Actually, I'll go further than "underwhelming". They're bloody awful. Print is dying and with it the willingness of advertisers to devote money or creative energy to the promotion of their products to print readers (ie. old people and saddos like me). There is no Tony Greig in his jocks here, friends (which would be a good thing, in case you're confused). So take that as fair warning. 

Without further rambling....

It can't be an easy job to put together a profitable sports magazine these days, but you'd assume the New Balance marketing manager was pretty happy with their day's work when this one hit the news stands.

Apparently Brett Lee was in the top 5 earners in Australian cricket last year, though I find it a little hard to imagine that he and Michael Hussey are still among the most marketable to the tween demographic at whom this and other Big Bash-themed ads are aimed. I could be wrong.

No cricketer is more suited to spruiking HD curved TVs than David Warner. If they ever invent one where players can literally jump out of the screen into living tooms and punch on with viewers, Warner should also be their go-to man.

This is a bit NQR, mind. Are those teenagers at the front or just really small adults?

Not my finest bit of scanning, but some more New Balance action for Aaron Finch. Glenn Maxwell cops a lot of stick about about his various commercial successes perhaps outweighing his on-field ones, but the thought of Aaron Finch 'changing the game' in a pair of whites is perhaps a stretch.

It's been a quiet year from Watto on the advertising front. Is this his audition for Patrick Swayze's role in the remake of Ghost?

I've looked at this advert a number of times - and the DVD itself in JB Hifi - and even I haven't brought myself to make a purchase yet. Is it unutterably bad? I copped grief off a few people for recommending Save Your Legs, but this looks very straight-to-VHS.

"Get your kids into T20 Action, it's going so well we can't find anyone willing to have their photo displayed on our advertising material." Again, is this any good? Anyone's kids fallen in love with the game as a result? Comments below, if so.

"Deal direct with Cricket Australia". Is that meant to be a good thing?

Bad cricket puns are as eternal as summer itself. Bonus points in this case for using what looks suspiciously like Comic Sans. 

"You've just gotta love having to promote a triangular series months before the event, heightening the chance that your poster stars have lost or quit their jobs by the time the thing rolls around." How much do you want to bet that the congo-line of dress-up wankers at the bottom were added at the last minute at the insistence of whichever tragic figure is in charge of getting bums on seats at ODIs these days?

This is actually better than most of the offical ICC CWC ads, to be honest.

Heart you, Glenn. Chin up buddy. Maxwell is getting such a ridiculously hard time off the press at the moment. Out of form? Yes. The figurehead of an entire generation of rapidly-boiling evil? Pack it in guys.

"Official wine of Cricket Australia." "The Purest Expression of Cricket." Someone's been getting stuck into too many samplers, methinks.

Hang on, though. This is genius. It's been a long time since an Australian cricketer appeared in advertising wearing their baggy green cap post-career. I hope this is a trend that continues. We haven't seen the likes of this since Graham Yallop was promoting indoor cricket centres in the late 80s. Pigeon is also spruiking Metamucil at the moment. I've spared you that one but somebody probably needs to have a chat to the McGrath personal brand consultant. I think they've been getting lashed on the Hardys.

Nothing screams both 'cricket' and 'quality hospitality' like Hog's Breath Cafe. 

This is what I was talking about in regards to the promotion of the Cricket World Cup. Not exactly inspiring stuff, is it?

Perfect for eating at home, because you'll want a vacant bathroom and plenty of people you love nearby in the 30 minutes post-ingestion.

Err, nope. How is this a thing? That is just a miniature bat and stumps. You know what the "ultimate lounge room cricket match" is? 'Test Match' by Crown and Andrews. Do not accept imitations and frauds. 

Poor Mike Hussey, wedged out of the Nine commentary box by that battalion of blowhards and now at risk of being trampled to death by a giant foot. I'd buy a pair if they had his face on them.


And now, to the UK, where things improve slightly but not much...

This "Stand Together" Adidas campaign was quite clearly put together before England was trounced in the Ashes, but its specific message does at least seem like something that might have been avoided, with hindsight. As the kids say, LOL.

Our first entry from the "six months is a very long time in cricket" files. And is this the crappest marketing slogan of 2014? Excellent is in the detail? In my time writing ad copy I saw and also produced some genuine bollocks, but that is just pus.

Quite the maverick, Ben Stokes. Doesn't even wear a thigh pad.

Finally, print media admits defeat and gives the nerds what they want. This does pose a quandary though - how else am I to make my office a high-level fire hazard?

Okay New Balance marketing types, all is forgiven. I would start by saying that this isn't Eoin Morgan's fault (also, there was a quite remarkable moment last year when he read my post about Australian domestic one-day uniforms, sending him rocketing to the top of the leader board in my vaunted rankings system for England representatives who've read this blog) but that is obvious. "The stuff of Legend"? I thought the advertising industry couldn't afford cocaine anymore...

And now my favourite facial expression in cricket advertising for 2014. "James, play a shot but look directly at me as though you're a small spaniel who resents being watched as he parks one on the lawn. Okay yes, but dial up the shame a bit."

Anderson's pull in the pseudo-science market makes sense, I guess. All fast bowlers are in essence miracles of sports science. 

He's been milking this one for a few years. Does anyone know how well these gigs are paying?

English friends are quick to complain about the state of domestic T20 cricket right now and with ads like this, you can see why. Is the camera focused on the media centre because that is in fact the spot where the ECB wants a blast to occur?

And now the most British ad of the year. This makes me happy, it really does. You could get in a time machine to 2150 and English people will still be gnawing away at pork pies, bless 'em.

MS Dhoni always looks like either an unwilling participant in these photo shoots, or else artificially constructed with the assistance of photo shop. Similarities between that and his captaincy are purely coincidental. 

When I think of passion and excellence in cricket, the name "Stanford" is always one of the first to pop into my head. 


So yes, that was an appalling drop in standards even from 2013, dear readers. In actual fact it was probably the worst ever year for entertainment via cricket-themed print advertising. 

But...just as I was wrapping all of this up my friend Geoff Clarke, bless him, arrived at the door of my office armed not only with tales of the 1960-61 West Indians he'd seen at Brisbane during the Tied Test or the time years later when he'd driven Wes Hall and Gary Sobers around Melboune in his cab, but also two boxes of vintage cricket magazines he'd kindly and correctly recognized as the kind of thing I'd be interested in.

This post is thus saved by Mr Clarke, whose bounty produced all of the gems below. I'm calling an appendix and thanking him for pulling this out of the fire.

You know who wanted to score Peter May? Your nan, probably. What a sight for sore eyes this one was after all of the dross above.

There's really not enough sober analysis in the commentary box these days and it could well be due to the lack of pipe tobacco in the air.

This is wonderful stuff from Gradidge. This is art, people

These early 60s ones are from Playfair Cricket Monthly, in case you didn't guess. You don't get magazine covers like this anymore.

Ted Dexter for Gray Nicolls. I had a net with my new GN Heritage twin-scoop the other day. I'd hazard a guess that its middle is a little weightier than those from which Dexter and co benefited. 

Those boots look like torture devices, don't they?

Before Mercantile Mutual, FAI Insance, McDonalds and Gilette, there was the Vehicle and General Insurance Cup. Bit of a mouthful, really.

Don't swat the flies, Lawry, they're the only friends you've got.

Redders in fine form for Stuart Surridge. I think there is bird shit on the back cover of this mag. I'm glad for Redders to have the luck.

I promised myself I wouldn't mention Chappelli when I captioned this but now I've just gone ahead and done it.

This is genuinely cool. Do Adidas do any archive/heritage stuff on their cricket range? They should. They produced some cracking minimalist ads for the likes of Richards.

Technically this is an ad, so a good enough excuse to include an early 70s photo of the original Marsh brothers.

Was this Sam Trimble's only national endorsement deal? I can't imagine his name was uttered often on Madison Avenue. 

EFCO, like the term "slacks", really fell by the wayside in the last couple of decades.

Another Adidas offering. I wonder if Chappelli was on the payroll or whether they just gave him free shoes. And is that Bacchus in the photo or a flipped image of Chappelli? This is among the sad, depressing thoughts I've had this afternoon.

Now that is a marketing tagline. Watch and learn, Gen Y.

Cricket fixtures also seem to be a thing of the past (is anyone still reading this?) but this one is an absolute cracker. I considered scanning the back as well but there are limits to loserdom and for me, that was too far beyond.

TNT paid Andy Roberts' way to play for NSW in 1976. How did that work, exactly? I'm sure all the batsmen of the other states were thrilled.

Rick McCosker giving the enthusiastic pose of a man who is only being paid by the run by his bat sponsor.

Channel Ten covered the Centenary Test in 1977 and this was their team.

Ah, the alternate 'I feel like a Tooheys or two' ad. The more common one featured Steve Rixon going the tonk and the rest of the team down the bottom in a much smaller picture. I know, I have the poster framed on my wall. Again, anyone still reading?

T20 in 1978, you say?

This '78 Slazenger ad was probably baffling to a few kiddies of the era. 'Who's this old bloke then?'

Technically not an advert but still a great moment in 1970s sport sponsorship.

This would have gone into my domestic one-dayers post if I'd found it in time.

Another Adidas gem, another poster that is framed on the wall of my office. And my wedding is still on, I can confirm

In 1978 there was nothing that got people excited like the sight of David Colley. Well, perhaps not if you were a New South Wales selector, but you get my point. This was the era in which the Blues picked second-gamer Andrew Hilditch as their skipper. Colley wasn't a fan of that call, needless to say. What is it that I love about this advert though?

Ah yep, I've got it now.

This is another gem. Did you read Peter Hanlon's piece on Peter Toohey last week in The Age? I'd link to it, but blogger won't let me for some reason.

Capturing the all-important Craig Serjeant demographic.

Finally, my favourite magazine cover of all-time. I think you can guess why.