Entertaining the Masses

Entertainment programming is a hard gig at the best of times. There is great pressure to assemble a line-up that will create record-breaking sales while strongly appealing to a demographic that changes its musical taste every two minutes. But, surprisingly, it is a much more difficult job to program for an event that has very little to do with music . . . the AFL Grand Final.

Ellie Goulding

Programming requires a strong marketing knowledge. You need to get in your ideal consumer’s mind and predict artists which will resonate with them, encourage them to purchase tickets and generate significant positive word of mouth. Something which the AFL attempt to do every year.

But they have a tough job.

It would be easy if all AFL fans were of a certain demographic. Or if they all had the same music tastes. But unfortunately they don’t. AFL is such a defining Australian sport that it has a huge catchment of people from different walks of life, different backgrounds and different musical tastes. And on top of that, the AFL executives want a performance which will get people tuning in who have no interest in football – much like the Superbowl half time show which is a must-see event whether or not you are a fan of American Football.

This year’s AFL Grand Final performers have been announced and while it is getting strongly mixed reviews, there is a reason for people across Australia to tune in. The line-up for 2015 will feature Bryan Adams, Chris Isaak and Ellie Goulding who recently blew up the charts with Love Me Like You Do scoring the Number One place on charts across the world.

While a lot of people may not be fans of a Canadian, an American and a British artist taking to the stage of Australia’s national game, these programming decisions are actually rather clever. When choosing the musical superstars, AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan used the following method. He loved the music of Bryan Adams – with Summer of ’69 a personal favourite – and his kids were captivated with the music of Ellie Goulding. (No doubt Channel 7 had a say in the third performer featuring one of the judges on their upcoming season of X Factor, Chris Isaak, for a little bit of extra promotion).

Instantly he is crossing two of the main generations finding a reason to be engaged by the entertainment. If he had simply chosen Bryan Adams, all the young fans would have complained that the AFL is out of touch and not interested in them. If he had only chosen Ellie Goulding, he would have lost a significant number of eyes once the band started playing. But choosing this eclectic mix means that there is actually something for everyone and also a reason for non-traditional football viewers to tune in!

There was going to be controversy whatever decision the AFL made. But, in all fairness, they have done a pretty good job creating a piece of entertainment which will appeal to the incredibly diverse AFL audience – one of the broadest audiences in Australia!