That One Day in September

Bet you never thought I’d write an article about football. Well, I just had to prove you wrong. There’s one thing that football and the theatre have in common . . . sponsorship. And the footy does it better than anyone else!


The harsh reality of putting on a big event is that it costs a lot of money. And while individual donors can go a long way in helping these events come to fruition, there is nothing more appealing than offering a whole heap of exposure to a commercial brand.

Look at the AFL. Where can companies advertise? In the footy program, around the ground, specific events during the day and even on the players. And probably many more places that I didn’t consciously notice!

What did I pick up from the last two and a half hours of football?

  • Tasmania, iiNet and BUPA are the main Hawthorn sponsors
  • Woodside and CUB sponsor Fremantle
  • Toyota pays a hell of a lot of money to have its name next to the words AFL Grand Final
  • Virgin has bought the halftime show; and
  • Even the football is branded

And those are only off the top of my head, imagine how many I could find if I was actively looking.

Whenever events become overly commercialised there are a lot of complaints, but it is a necessary part of facilitating such a large event – and it goes a rather long way to ensuring those six-figure salaries. So why isn’t the theatre taking on more sponsorship opportunities?

There is certainly scope for more sponsorship opportunities during the theatre experience. We could have the (enter brand name here) interval refreshments bar or the option to co-sponsor merchandise. And would it really be so bad to sell off some advertising space on stage?

It probably wouldn’t work quite as well for a show like South Pacific, but when First Date finally makes its way to Melbourne it could work. The show is current and set in a bar . . . I can see alcohol companies lining up to have a number of products placed prominently on the wall.

Yes, some may see it as selling out. But imagine what could happen with all that extra money!

Shows would have a bit of extra time to build up audiences, brands who have bought a place in the show’s set would be promoting the show to their markets and the people involved in the show could earn a bit more money.

It sounds like a pretty good idea to me. And if 100,007 people at the MCG enjoy watching the game despite the advertising, it could only boost theatre’s audiences!