Is the AFL just a bunch of bullies?
News that the AFL has sent a cease and desist notice to footy loving “geeks”, shows just how backward the management at the AFL really are when it comes to contemporary approaches to marketing and branding, and ultimately, makes them look like a bunch of bullies.
A little while ago, the music publishing industry realised that old-fashioned, punitive approaches to managing their brands and products, would no longer work in the new era of the web. For a long time, they pursued sites like Kazaa and Napster, aiming to shut them down, while continuing to release music on a format that suited their own, internal needs – CDs.
Eventually they realised that it was never going to be completely successful, because the guerilla techniques available to people using the web would always be able to “chip” away at their strategies to protect their intellectual property. So, the smart ones at Sony, BMG, Warner, Universal Music et al., decided to say, “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em”, and decided to release their music digitally. A smart move. Given, sales of full albums have declined, but people are paying for music in record numbers.
Similarly, the Obama campaign was so succesful, not because they completely controlled the message, but because they helped bloggers, twitterers, and web-savvy supporters to get the message out to their constituents.
They grabbed Web 2.0 and ran with it (click here for a particularly geeky explanation of Web 2.0).
The Obama campaign didn’t threaten to sue his supporters, they literally helped them to manage the brand and used it as a central platform of the campaign. This was why he was so successful with the young voters – he understood that trying to control the blogosphere was silly – he joined ’em, and his brand was, obviously, successful.
What the AFL needs to recognise is that they people who support their brand are the types of AFL “geeks” that they are now punishing. Sadly, AFL management don’t seem to get the internet, so they apply silly old marketing and strategy models, and act like bullies. This is the classic response – if you don’t understand it, destroy it.