Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Challenges of Branding

Leeds CarnegieI inherited the ability to appreciate both codes of Rugby from my father, and have no time for the bigots of one code who spend all their time slagging of the supporters of the other on various message boards. There so many easier targets in kevball, that the internecine warfare is a bit of an indulgence. I was talking to dad last night who was pleased to see the return of the Leeds Tykes Carnegie to the Rugby Union's Guinness Premiership, to fill in the voids when the slightly more illustrious Leeds Rhinos aren't displaying the art of the other code at Headingly. I left Leeds long before the then Tykes came into being, so I've no conflict of interest with my Saracens support and so I'm glad to see them back too.

The name change is a result of a link up with Carnegie Faculty of Sport at Leeds Metropolitan University, similar to Saracen's association with the sports facilities at the University of Hertfordshire and Oaklands college, though in the former case the college has taken a 51% share in the Leeds club. These are fantastic initiatives with the chance to benefit both the respective faculties and the clubs, in areas all the way from marketing to on-pitch performance.

I did have a slight concern over some of the branding though, especially when it comes to mascots, for the newly re-promoted club.

In most cases the associations are pretty obvious, Ronnie the Rhino is a firm favourite with Rhinos fans, Leicester Tigers have two rather soft looking Tigers, and Sale Sharks have, you've guessed it, a shark. Wasp's wasp always looks as if it has just crapped itself and the only time I saw the Newcastle falcon it was missing it's beak and looked like a walking turd, but the kids still love them.

Sometimes the link is a bit tenuous, but most people, for example, get the connection which dictates that Saracens have a demented camel called Sarrie. Sarrie is the undoubted star of the Rugby Union mascot world having allegedly already been reprimanded for 'showing disrespect to officials' and destroying the Sale Shark with a bone crushing tackle at Twickenham. I think he is probably inspired a lot by Ronnie, especially when it comes to lewd behaviour on the pitch with the cheerleaders.

Andrew CarnegieBut what are Leeds Carnegie to do? I really don't think someone dressed as a bearded, turn of the 19th Century philanthropist is really going to do it for the kids.

Oh well, if they managed to do a 'Tyke' without indulging in the dangerous passtime of parodying Yorkshiremen then I'm sure they'll manage a 'Carnegie' somehow. The things that can happen when you give marketing people a completely blank sheet of paper and tell them to be creative can be truly frightening.

No comments: