The role of any sports marketing team is to make the spectators aware about the game and bring them to the stadiums. This also includes giving the best experience of the game to its viewers. What Cricket Australia did to sports marketing is something very unique. They tried to involve the public in various ways with the game of cricket. Australia is sporting capital of the world along with USA, all know that. So, the challenge for the cricketing body of the country was quite clear – How to make Cricket the No. 1 Summers sport in the Country. Another concern for them was the declining performance of the national cricket team. So, how did they do? Let’s have a look.
First of all, they went to the grassroots of the game. The aim here was quite clear, make each and every stockholder of the game have their say about how to run the game. That will make them feel good about the game and then and then only, they will market the game when it matters. So, they went to each and every cricket club of the country and made them register on the Cricket Australia Website. They named the campaign as ‘Play Cricket!’ and what this did to the regional clubs of the country was quite phenomenal. People came to know about nearest cricketing facilities from their homes where they can send their children to play. This made clubs stronger on financial front and also made people involved in the game.
Now, it’s time to focus on national cricket team and how Cricket Australia ran various campaigns all across the country. It was around time of beginning of southern hemisphere summer of the year 2008 when Cricket Australia launched an ad campaign named as ‘Hungry for it’. And it made an appearance on almost each and every TV channels of the country. The trams of Melbourne were showing this during the peak hours. From Queensland to Tasmania, it created a buzz among the public about the series against the Indians. The most popular of the advertisements was obviously the one in which Michael Clarke was shown practising with a single stump just like ‘Don Bradman’ used to do in his backyard.
The next most impressive campaign came during the Ashes of 2006-2007 when the sponsor ‘3 Mobile’ came along to launch a campaign called ‘Mission 3 Ashes’. In this various players were shown completing tasks individually and it was said that when they come together, it is called ‘Extra ordinary 11’. They were taken to The Great Barrier Reef to shoot the advertisement. Now, that’s quite an exotic location to shoot an advertisement, isn’t it?
It was not like Cricket Australia was only focusing on cricket matches and what they did for the promotion of ‘Allan Border Medal Ceremony 2008’ was quite extra ordinary. They partnered with the Sponsor ‘Ford Motors’ to come up with an advertisement where they showed Andrew Symmonds coming out of a Car-Wash without his Shirt and brushing his teeth. People related this advertisement with the personality of the player and they all tuned in to watch the ceremony live on national television.
The next one in the line is the campaign they came up with in the summer of 2009. It was called ‘Long Live Cricket’ in which kids were shown playing cricket in backyard. It was simple enough advertisement for anyone to understand but the impact which it made was really useful. They connected Cricket with summer and along with surfing at the beach in the morning, Cricket was in their mandatory afternoon catalogues. Cricket Australia has been doing this all summers till date and this has only become bigger in the magnitude. And it has been successful in pulling the crowd for Australian National Cricket team all across the summers. There is absolutely no doubt about that.
Now, What next. Next is ‘Fan Experience’ and how Cricket Australia converted the Cricket watching experience into a virtual Carnival for the lovers of the game. According to a poll on one of the top sporting websites, the experience of watching Cricket in Australia is voted as ‘The best sporting experience in the world’. This is not a small thing by any stretch of imagination, that is for sure. And the reason behind that are the efforts of Cricket Australia. They provide best ticketing facility, foods and beverages, free internet and many more services on the ground for the fans. They always bring fans closer to the action and tried to make everything available on the seats itself for the viewers. They have been quite innovative too for some reasons. They converted a stand into virtually a beach by putting sand underneath at Sydney Cricket Ground a couple of seasons ago and this season they created a swimming pool in one of the stands at the Gabba. And it created quite a buzz around the globe.
Apart from the on ground experiences, Cricket Australia also organizes various ‘Meet and Greet’ events with the players. Before every summer, the players and support staff of the team would go on the streets of Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, and Brisbane just to interact with the general public and invite them to watch them live on the ground during the summer. There would also be an ‘Official Autograph Day’ when people can find the whole team under one roof at the Federation Square or probably even at the Sydney Opera House. Kids generally come in numbers during these events to see their heroes. Cricket Australia also organizes ‘Official Lunch with Team’ on Christmas and New Year’s Day every year. And events like these have gone a long way in making Cricket Popular in the country.
Another thing Cricket Australia has done incredibly well is to segment the viewers in proper way. This includes many things, one of them is the grand success of the ‘KFC Big Bash League’. Now, Cricket Australia gave freedom to each and every team of BBL to promote themselves in whatever way they like. But they made sure that the whole tournament always remains ‘Transparent’. And the results were there for everyone to be seen. Big Bash has been ranked 7th in terms of Most attended Sports Leagues in the world and No 1 in terms of Average attendance per match. That’s simply astonishing!! People flooded the grounds in the afternoon to watch their favourite Domestic and international superstars in action. There were days in Melbourne when in Morning, Fathers taking their children to test matches and in the afternoon, Children taking their fathers to watch some T20 cricket on Boxing Day. Now, that’s what exactly I meant when I said ‘Segmentation’. The scheduling has also been quite fantastic considering the fact that it all has to be fit in the three months of the summer.
Another angle of the discussion would be focusing on the followers of the game far away and probably outside Australia. And Cricket Australia has also taken care of them quite well. The live coverage of the matches has been world class from the word go. They introduced many new features in the broadcasting of a Cricket match. The camera work has always been world class and who can forget the ‘Summers Intro of Cricket’ in the voice of the great Richie Benaud on Channel Nine. Cricket Australia also runs an online Cricket Family for their international fans. It also hosts a world class website of their own to give all the updates about the game. It gives coverage for each and every domestic match on its website.
What makes Cricket Australia different from any other sporting body is their vision towards each and every aspects of the game. And what they have done with Women’s Cricket is absolutely ‘Champaign stuff’ in many ways. They have converted women’s cricket into a property by promoting it along with the Boys game. They have also scheduled the games along with the men’s matches. This has brought more public to the women’s matches. They have also run various campaigns for the promotion of the women’s game as they did with men’s. The launch of Women’s BBL was also a part of that project.
So, We have listed down some of the things that Cricket Australia has done for the Game of Cricket in the country and if Marketing is anything to go by ‘Satisfying the Needs of the Customers’ then Cricket Australia has been fantastic in whatever it has done. And remember that this is just the ‘Nutshell’. And probably this can be some of the most important landmarks for every Sports Marketing Team on the earth.