Prime time to test brand

Geelong Advertiser - - AFL - STEVE LARKIN

WITH quick hits, the short­for­mat AFLX might solve long­stand­ing co­nun­drums for AFL heavy­weights, a sports mar­ket­ing guru says.

Sick of get­ting pil­lo­ried for tin­ker­ing with the rules? Prob­lem solved, try them in AFLX.

Can’t ex­pand the code into fresh mar­kets be­cause of no full-sized fields? No prob­lem, play games on soc­cer or rugby pitches.

Can’t fill the in­sa­tiable ap­petite for the AFL prod­uct? Solved, in­tro­duce a new com­pe­ti­tion.

Wary of an en­tre­pre­neur pinch­ing your prod­uct and cre­at­ing a rebel spec­ta­cle? No wor­ries, do it your­self.

Sports mar­ket­ing ex­pert Con Stavros is much an­tic­i­pat­ing the AFLX ex­per­i­ment. Stavros is a footy fan.

He’s also as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor at RMIT Univer­sity’s School of Eco­nom­ics, Fi­nance and Mar­ket­ing with re­search in­ter­ests in­clud­ing sport and sports mar­ket­ing. Which is why he’s dou­bly-in­trigued about the launch of AFLX in Ade­laide tonight.

From a mar­keter’s viewpoint, Stavros says the AFL has shrewdly crafted a for­mat that could an­swer long-term ques­tions.

“Any sport go­ing out­side its realm is re­ally, re­ally chal­leng­ing,” Stavros said yes­ter­day.

“But the great thing with this prod­uct is be­cause it’s brand new, you can do what­ever you want with it in the name of ex­per­i­men­ta­tion.”

AFLX games will be 20min­utes long, with seven play­ers on each team on fields about 110 me­tres long.

Tonight’s for­mat de­but in Ade­laide will be played at a soc­cer sta­dium be­fore kick­ing off in Mel­bourne to­mor­row night and Syd­ney on Satur­day night. New rules will be tri­alled: 10 points for goal kicked from out­side a 40m arc; the team which last touches the ball be­fore it goes out of bounds will sur­ren­der pos­ses­sion to their op­po­nent.

There will be kick-ins af­ter any score; a 20-sec­ond shot clock; no time-on; no in­ter­change cap.

“The crit­i­cism the AFL of­ten have from their real brand loy­als has al­ways been don’t tin­ker with the rules,” Stavros said.

“They have now got a plat­form where they can ac­tu­ally start tin­ker­ing a lit­tle bit more.

“They are do­ing it in the AFLW but this gives them a chance with the elite ath­letes in the AFL game to also test things on them and get their feed­back.

“It just lends it­self to a great lit­tle ex­per­i­men­ta­tion area.”

Stavros doubted ex­pan­sion into over­seas mar­kets was a prime mo­ti­va­tion be­hind AFLX.

“The dif­fer­ent sta­di­ums is a re­ally in­ter­est­ing one,” he said. “I know there’s some talk about go­ing in­ter­na­tional and I guess there is that ex­hi­bi­tion po­ten­tial. But I’m not sure it’s go­ing to be a change changer to take off in­ter­na­tion­ally.

“But surely it be­comes much eas­ier for them to say ‘hey, let’s do this next year in New Zealand or Sin­ga­pore or the United States or wher­ever’ — it’s far eas­ier to find the grounds.”

Stavros be­lieved AFLX would also thwart any poten-

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