Outside of the pre-season training, the planning of coaches and recruiting staff, now is the time when AFL clubs focus on their membership drives.
Unknown possibilities and potential waits ahead in the 2013 AFL season, and the clubs have come up with a variety of slogans designed to entice members into handing over their hard-earned cash.
Just as on the field, there are winners and losers in the game of fan recruitment as well. Membership powerhouse Collingwood as well as Carlton have stuck with their campaigns from 2012, with ‘Side By Side’ and ‘I Am Carlton’ being the respective taglines. Collingwood has listened to its supporter base and once again is providing members caps and scarves as an incentive to sign up.
Hawthorn remained steadfast as well with the ‘Always Hawthorn’ campaign continuing. The most distinctive thing about its membership poster is the very clear linking to Tasmania right below the Hawthorn emblem. In a crowded Melbourne market, the Hawks are clearly looking to further build their fan base elsewhere.
The Bulldogs fare reasonably well, continuing their push for ‘Our Heartland’, further engaging with its western suburbs community. As with Collingwood, they add in the sweetener of members caps to those who join.
Port Adelaide, which struggles in game attendance as well as membership despite a proud and passionate supporter base stemming from the SANFL Magpies, attempts to draw on this history with ‘Show Your True Passion’. With the highest level of member satisfaction in the AFL and putting their sometimes dismal on-field performances aside, the Power are hoping to inspire members to sign up. St Kilda, also draws on its long history with ‘Loyalty Unites Us’.
These teams are the standouts for slogans; the respective taglines also serve as effective hashtags on twitter – #SideBySide, #IAMCARLTON, #OurHeartland, #OurPassion #AlwaysHawthorn, #LoyaltyUnitesUs – in order to further engage their fans in the burgeoning medium of social media.
Richmond and Brisbane both play on their animal mascots, Richmond opting to use ‘The Roar Is Back’, inciting members to bring themselves and their voice to inspire the players. For Brisbane, ‘Because Pride Is Within’ encourages the Lions supporters to take it a step further, asking their members to ‘Answer the call; pride is distinctive.’ AFL newcomers GWS use the tagline ‘Stand Tall’ to play on its team name.
Gold Coast implores its fans to ‘Take Your Seat’ and hope that the straightforward request along with the ‘Race to 10k’ membership bet with GWS will see its membership numbers rise.
Essendon has promised no quarter for its opponents, and perhaps its coaching staff, with ‘Whatever It Takes’ and Geelong has offered ‘Footy Full On, both teams perhaps believing that extra capitalisation will provide them with the impetus required for finals success in 2013.
West Coast asks its members to ‘Be part of the team in 2013’ with clever colouring on the poster asking the dual questions of ‘Are you in?’ and ‘Are you inspired?’ With continually sold-out home-matches, the Eagles hardly have to stretch their wings on the marketing front. The same holds for reigning premiers Sydney, simply stating ‘Proudly Sydney’.
Fremantle clearly spent the majority of its budget on attaining the services of Ross Lyon in 2012 with the ‘Season 2013: Let’s go!’ about as inspiring as some of its coach’s low scoring defensive game plans.
North Melbourne made an equally bewildering marketing decision, losing the ‘Ignite’ that served well on social media last year, instead switching to ‘Spirit: Then, Now and Forever’. It’s a little ethereal, though it does reference the shinboner spirit. Equally grating is its offer to become a ‘Troo Roo’, with unnecessary spelling alterations ranking high on the list of what not to do in a marketing campaign.
Without a doubt, adding to a torturous off-season with the Tippett scandal, Adelaide wins the award for worst AFL membership recruiting slogan for 2013. Continuing with the push for the 19th man, which is quite clever marketing, the Crows have gone with ‘You’re A Required Player’ this year. While this doesn’t seem too bad, add in the tagline included in the membership brochure of ‘Be the unfair advantage,’ it adds a negative connotation rather than inspiring members, leaving a sour taste in the mouth of Crows fans.
In terms of effective marketing manoeuvres, for the Adelaide’s merchandising department, it sits with the inclusion of Kurt Tippett in the 2013 AFC calendar as the biggest failure of all clubs.
It will be interesting to see just how well these marketing campaigns work with the supporter bases, especially clubs such as Port Adelaide and Western Bulldogs who could use the extra boost.