5 NRL season launch campaigns - the brilliant, the bad & the beautiful 80s

5 NRL season launch campaigns - the brilliant, the bad & the beautiful 80s

"Premierships aren't won in March"

Folklore behind this famous statement will point to league legend Jack Gibson. Now it rolls off the tongue from every coach at the beginning of the NRL season. 

In a further nod to the late and great Jack Gibson, the season launch of 2017 comes full circle from one of his other famous remarks, "waiting for Cronulla to win a premiership is like leaving the porch light on for Harold Holt."

Ready to rumble. Captains attend the NRL 2017 season launch. Image credit - NRL.com

Ready to rumble. Captains attend the NRL 2017 season launch. Image credit - NRL.com

1. Turn off your porch light - 2017

It was a long wait for Sharks fans in the Sutherland Shire. But 2016 finally saw an end to the Harold Holt curse. 

The 2017 NRL season launch appropriately captures the community spirit behind the Cronulla Sharks. 

Peter Jarmain, general manager, marketing and brand, NRL told Campaign Brief:

"Last year's thrilling finish, proved that not only can history happen but in a competition that's so close on the field, when fans rally behind their team en masse, this can make the difference. Our campaign this year acknowledges the important role fans play in driving their team, and acts as a rallying cry for fans to show their support on game-day. 'Let's make history' is about fans and players coming together, with the opportunity to help take the club all the way to the Grand Final."

The campaign also works because it reflects how fans actually experience a game. With phone in hand, fans are active social media players.

Matt Henry Manager, Digital & Social Media at NRL, recently spoke with Sean Callanan from Sportsgeek about how social media explodes during the State of Origin series.   

"Across our top 3 influencers that we engaged, they ended up retweeting that content to over 11 million of their fans cumulatively. The conversation went global."

Here's a look at the woeful and wonderful season launch advertising campaigns from previous years. 

2. History happens - 2016

The NRL TV ad of 2016 perfectly packaged excitement. 

Who can ever forget the magnificent theatre that was the final 10 minutes of the 2015 Grand Final. It was unforgettable. And so it should have been the centrepiece of last year's advertising campaign.

No Thomas Keneally poetry or ill-fitted American anthems endorsing the sport. (AFL fans need not be reminded of the Meat Loaf misfire in 2011). 

Just pure emotion from the day the football Gods finally delivered the ultimate prize to Jonathan Thurston. 

The campaign of 2016 continued the focus on fan engagement. The clip contains mobile phone footage from the Grand Final. 

Cloaked in "history happens" and with the fortune of replaying moments from one of the greatest games of all time, the NRL kicked off the year strongly. 

3. The beautiful 80s

Probably the most memorable campaign in the sport's history, Tina Turner's campaign was catchy and fun. 

4. Why is there an American in our house?

Somewhere in the advertising pitch at rugby league HQ, it was agreed that there was a demographic fit between Bon Jovi and NRL fans. 

But why was an American rock star singing about our sport?

It worked for Tina Turner. But it didn't work in 2011.

5. Brutal poetry

Thomas Keneally will be remembered for many achievements. However, the NRL ad of 1999 won't be among them. 

The production design was excellent. The ad beautifully showcased the history of the game.

Where it failed was in the delivery of emotion. Fans need to be reminded of the sport's excitement. It failed in that area. 

Central to the where the campaign went wrong was poetry. It is just too high-brow for the average league fan. 

Bring it on

The NRL have succeeded two years running in delivering a fan centred campaign. The stage is set for another spectacular season. 

-END ARTICLE-

Follow me on Twitter or email edward@edwardcrossin.com 

 

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