NRL targets women, with AFL squarely in its sights
Women love it and men hate it. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is exactly the point.
Despite the idiotic antics of some of its players, the NRL is not stupid. Its new ad, featuring pop diva Jessica Mauboy, is a deliberate pitch at the hearts and minds of women.
The NRL knows it must compete with the AFL to increase both its TV audience and the number of people who attend games. The AFL has long been able to boast that women comprise a greater share of both audiences. The new NRL ad could go a long way to changing that.
There are moments in the new ad, such as the scene early on with smiling Mums watching kids playing on the lawn, when it almost looks like a margarine ad.
Other scenes, with teenage girls playing touch footy on the beach and in the school playground, are reminiscent of ads for pimple cream.
The overall message is clear. Rugby league is a game for everyone. It is not just for boofy blokes.
In the 20 years since the iconic Tina Turner “Simply The Best” campaign, the annual rugby league ad has been a blokefest set to music for blokes.
Last year’s ad featured Bon Jovi’s rock anthem “This Is Our House”. It rammed home the message that men have their own turf which is not to be messed with. It couldn’t have been less inclusive of women if it included a scene at the urinals.
Other overtly blokey rugby league anthems included the drinking song “Tubthumping” in the 1998 season, and Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys are Back in Town” in 1985-88.
The boys are back in town and playing footy again in 2013, but now the NRL wants women watching them too.
Mauboy’s 2013 rugby league theme song is a remake of the Etta James classic Something’s Got a Hold On me. If social media is anything to go by, it has indeed taken hold.
Women on twitter seem unanimous in their praise for it. A typical reaction was this from Kaley Purcell (@merlinspants), who said “Really enjoyed the 2013 #NRL ad with jessica Mauboy, best promo ad they’ve had in a while”.
Blokes were less impressed. As McFlavour (@McFlavour7) tweeted: “Jess Mauboy the voice of #NRL? Why do RL marketing and entertainment guys always think girly pop marries up with the word’s toughest sport?”
The answer to Mr McFlavour’s question is obvious. Because there are two ways to grow a sport.
One way is to find new geographical territory. With the AFL now marching into the rugby league heartland of western Sydney and no NRL expansion teams in the pipeline, that’s not a short term option.
That leaves demographics as the only avenue for growth. If women are attracted to the sport, it would not only boost NRL attendances today, but could bolster junior numbers in the future, as Mums are often the ones who decide what sport their sons play.
That, by the way, is why the shoulder charge was outlawed in the off season. And it’s why the latest offering from the NRL marketing department could easily be mistaken for a Colgate ad.
Comments on this post close at 8pm AEDST unless they are comments from the supercoach (points for the first to identify the obscure old rugby league reference)
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