Sex Sells!, or: How I Learned To Stop Being Overwhelmed And Accept Girls Kissing On Camera
Throughout summer, the Australian cricket team is firmly entrenched in the Australian psyche. How could they not be?! They’re our national icons for the three months in the year when there isn’t any football, and, in true capitalist fashion, keen marketing minds have harnessed this incredible selling power to drive their bottom dollar.
That’s the one guarantee about Australian cricketers: they’ll sell you anything.
In the warmer months, the first eleven can be seen pimping phones, Kentucky-frying chicken, and mouthing about multi-vitamins. There are a high variety of products and services being endorsed by cricketers, with some advertisements being more effective than others: I highly doubt Michael ‘Lean Machine’ Hussey has even touched a KFC bucket before, but as he’s a former teacher I can identify with his Easy Learning Keyboard, however bizarre that product may seem.
(As far as learning things from Michael Hussey goes, I’d much rather learn how to turn my body into a temple and score a boat-load of international runs, but beggars can’t be choosers and the learning keyboard will do me for the moment [plus, I’m now averaging a Hussey-esque 50.44 words per minute].)
But if there is something cricket lacks in the modern age it’s legitimate sex appeal, and that’s How Things Sell, if current trends are to be believed. Cigars! Burgers! I don’t know what Dolce & Gabbana sell, but it’s certainly doing things for me!
It isn’t that Cricket’s an ugly sport – ‘the beauty of a crisp cover-drive’, and all that – merely that other sports do the ‘hot athletes’ trope slightly better.
But that’s not for want of cricket trying, however misguided their attempts might be. Remember: sex sells. Only in this example, it doesn’t involve the players.
The brains trust has been employing the “Vodafone Kiss Cam” during the Australia/India test match at the MCG. This treat involves the stadium cameras swinging around on members of the crowd who are sitting in groups of two, framing the couple in the middle of a loveheart-shaped graphic and relying on crowd reaction to pressure them into kissing.
At its best, ‘kiss cam’ is a cute cutaway during the drinks breaks. At its worst, it is smarmy titillation: obviously having ticked the “sex sells” box, the directors have worked out that they can use crowd peer pressure to get two women to pash. In these cases, Kiss Cam goes from cutesy to creepy, from creative advertising to public voyeurism.
“The Vodafone Kiss Cam.” New-age advertising giving misogynistic males what they want.
Does it work? I suppose it’s not selling a specific product, but it gets your attention to the act and to the brand. That’s a win/win for the marketing guys.
With this successful approach in mind, we believe that if Cricket Australia are looking to increase the profile of cricket, they should focus on employing the “sex sells” strategy.
If sex sells, then don’t sell phones – sell cricket. It’s cricket’s best way to gain new audiences, and The Sledge has identified how.
More tattoos (Indie/Goth/Alternative Culture)
If there is one thing that popular culture has shown me, it is that tattoos are cool. Ruby Rose. Amy Winehouse. Anthony Kiedis, David Beckham, Tommy Lee. Tattoos are hot, they’re recognisable, they’re “in”. If more cricketers looked like Jared Leto or Gerard Way, then there’d be more cross-culture appeal for cricket.
Tasteful Middle-Aged Women: Bring back the open-shirts.
Women of a certain vintage want something a little classier from their men, which is why we’re going back in time to when men were men who looked and ate and talked like men and knew what women wanted.
Keith Miller. Richie Benaud. Dennis Lillee. Three men whom have one linking factor: they are Australian cricketing legends whom wore shirts unbuttoned to their nipples, flaunting more chest than a lost pirate treasure.
Tasteful. Manly. Hairy. There’s something for everyone. D.K. Lillee, in particular, had more in common with Donkey Kong than merely his first two initials. Hell, Richie’s got a bronze statue of himself with his shirt unbuttoned. Just looking at a .jpeg of it makes me feel like ploughing a field or pouring cement. They don’t make shirts like that anymore, and that’s fair enough, because there’s nobody man enough to fill them out like they should be – now that Steve Waugh and Allan Border have retired, cricket lacks the raw testosterone and grit to really wear a shirt.
Mind you, if Richie ever gets sick of suits, he’s more than welcome to pop a top button or four.
Teenage Girls: Everyone needs to look like James Pattinson.
If we’re targeting the notoriously shallow ‘teenage girls’ demographic, then we need some man-bait. And that’s easy, provided that the selectors are happy to make some hard decisions. We put it to you that each team should now comprise six batsman, four bowlers and a keeper, but disregard runs, wickets and catches for “marketability.”
If cloning technology exists, then the selectors need not look past James Pattinson. Put eleven of him on the field each match, and boy – you’ll need to fast-track those renovations to the MCG, because it just won’t be big enough.
This, of course, is not true for the majority of cricket players. A team of rugged Dale Steyns wouldn’t draw in image-obsessed crowds, nor would a team of gap-tooth Pontings. However, a team of Shane Watsons might, or a team of Stuart Broads, or a team of Mitchell Johnsons, if you could stop them head-butting each other.
The General Public: Aggressive Branding.
To close, I’d like to suggest that the Cricket Australia marketing team should rethink their advertising thesaurus. Wordplay is important in advertising, and clever word selection can influence the viewer’s perception of how much a product appeals to them.
Something isn’t “good”, it’s “brilliant”; not “great”, it’s “outstanding.” So, I put it to Cricket Australia: don’t say “superstar”, or “legend”, or “hero”: say “succulent gent”, “ripped machine”, “hunk-o-spunk.”
Catch phrases are also important. Don’t faff about with meaningless jibber-jabber like “International Series”, or “Border/Gavaskar Trophy”, or “cricket” – get straight to the point with something that’ll make them think!
If the Vodafone Kiss Cam has taught me anything, the ultimate strategy is sex.