Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

The GAA and marketing razzmatazz

According to Séan Moran’s report in the paper at the weekend, the GAA plan to unveil a major marketing and promotional campaign in the coming months. The organisation know they face serious competition for both ticket-buyers and media coverage this …

Tue, Apr 17, 2012, 10:07

   

According to Séan Moran’s report in the paper at the weekend, the GAA plan to unveil a major marketing and promotional campaign in the coming months. The organisation know they face serious competition for both ticket-buyers and media coverage this summer with the European Championships and the Olympic Games also vying for attention. To counteract this, they’re planning “the most comprehensive marketing plan ever undertaken”, per Director General Páraic Duffy, to promote the games. To illustrate his point, Duffy urged county teams to provide their line-ups for weekend matches early in the week. Right…

Perhaps what the GAA need right now is a lad to go around shouting “boo this man!” to encourage fans to boo an opposition player when he steps up to take a free. That’s one of the many crowd-pleasing innovations which a couple of US professional basketball sides have introduced to the NBA in recent years. While watching the (terrible) Washington Wizards playing the (equally terrible) Detroit Pistons in DC last month, you couldn’t avoid this fellow during the first quarter from where I was sitting. He’d emerge behind the net, roar his head off to get Wizard fans worked up and scarper off into the stand. It didn’t really go down well with the Pistons’ fans around me. The boo lad wasn’t around for the rest of the night, which is just as well, as the Wizards inevitably threw away a decent lead as the clock counted down and the boos might well have been directed at the home team’s dismal failure to close out the game.

When it comes to marketing and promotion razzmatazz, the NBA truly have all bases covered. While the TV coverage usually manages to focus on the action on the court (except if one of the players manages to land amongst the courtside seats), it’s a totally different matter when you’ve paid your dollars and are sitting in the arena. There’s some class of distraction to fill every lull in the action for fear an audience of adults and kids will get bored. T-shirt giveaways, DJs, rampaging mascots, ridiculous sponsor tie-ins, getting the crowd to stand up until the Wizards score (it took a while): you name it and a NBA team have tried it out for size. It’s as if the team owners and marketeers don’t trust the highly paid talent on the boards to provide the entertainment so they have to step up and add some unique selling points to a humdrum Monday night game between two also-rans. We paid our money and we’ve taken our chances. Surely that should be enough?

But no, it’s not. There’s a need to add a rattle to the proceedings and that’s where the marketing and promotion come into the equation. The United States is the home of this way of talking and walking, so it’s no surprise that their sports have become cluttered with these dubious and over-bearing add-ons. No doubt, many in the audience feel these shenanigans add value for money and provide some family-friendly entertainment, but you begin to wonder if you’re here for the players throwing hoops or the Mickey Mouse palaver.

It’s highly unlikely that the GAA will go down this road. For a start, I don’t think the fans who go to games week in and week out, the ones who keep the GAA in clover, have much appetite for such tomfoolery. It’s bad enough that we’ve already seen pop groups playing at half-time at Croker during the early stages of the league campaigns to build a buzz. Yet there’s sure to be some marketing jackass who start whispering sweet nothings into the ears of the powers-that-be and before you know it, the authorised boo boy will be heading to Clones or Killarney. Perish the thought. That would never happen, right?

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