Stepping in the footprints of your idols
Children love emulating their idols. Pretending to be on stage in front of a capacity crowd while singing into a hairbrush in the mirror. Imagining you are running as fast as Cathy Freeman in the 2000 Olympics. Or dressing up as your favourite superhero to accompany your mother to the supermarket – making sure that evil isn’t lurking by the dishwashing detergent. Now the MCG is jumping on board.
The ‘hallowed turf’ of the MCG used not to be quite so hallowed. After a weekend match, invested audience members would make their way towards the centre of the stadium to have a kick of the footy on the same ground that they had just witnessed their favourite team play. But that all stopped a while ago with the MCG banning this popular post-match tradition.
This ban came about through two reasons. Firstly, there was concern for the quality of the surface after letting several thousand people enter the stadium. Secondly, the MCG had been hit by a number of damages claims from fans who had suffered injuries from flying footballs.
After extensive negotiations with their insurance underwriters and grass maintenance professionals, the MCG has made the decision to re-open the turf after the match on nine occasions in the next season. And this provides the perfect opportunity for developing a stronger bond between young fans and the match.
There are very few entertainment options where, immediately after a performance, fans can step into the shoes of their idols. Once a movie ends you are transported back to your original circumstances and once a concert finishes you need to evacuate the building rather than get up on stage (that is if you don’t want to be escorted from the premises by security). But this is an opportunity the MCG holds over many other entertainment forms.
As soon as the game is over, fans can now get out there and emulate their idols on the same ground they have just witnessed them play. This ultimately brings the actual and fantasy worlds together resulting in a bit of experiential marketing. Allowing involved fans to immediately step in the footprints of their idols strengthens that relationship with the sport. No longer are the audience purely passive, they get the opportunity to actively engage, imagining themselves as one of the elite members of the team as they kick the same balls around the same oval.
This strong visualization is something that every brand hopes to achieve. (Although it is much more likely in entertainment compared to the latest brand of gherkins). Visualization creates a strong mental link between the consumer and the brand. A connection that is much stronger than most other connections created when you learn a new fact or see a billboard. This is an experiential connection. And they are hard to forget!
Not many entertainment forms get the opportunity to create these kind of connections so easily. So when they do come around, you have to jump on it. Who knows . . . if this is a great success in increasing fan engagement, they may be rolled out every week!