After a plethora of marketing campaigns that just haven't quite worked, Super League have today launched 'The Rugby League of the Extraordinary' campaign that might just be the one to do the job properly.
The advert for the campaign, which features Sam Tomkins, James Roby, Eorl Crabtree and others using super powers which include dodging wrecking balls, moving skips and throwing their bodies aims to introduce fans from a broader audience to the sport.
So, in typical rugby league writer pessimist fashion, here are some of the dos and don'ts of rugby league marketing:
Do - Pay £90m for a five-year deal with Sky - taking it to a 21-year partnership - of up to 70 matches per season in HD and some of them in 3D. Get Boots 'n' All, Super League Supermen and Super League extra time and allow Super League clubs the potential to make more than £1m a year from the rights.
Don't - Give North Wales Crusaders a Super League license in order to raise interest in Wales only to have them go into administration two years later and withdraw from the league the following year. Not ideal publicity in North Wales for the sport.
Do - Give a Super League license to an already successful Super League team in France. Also give them time to build up a strong team and following and some pretty decent coaches in the form of Mick Potter and Trent Robinson. Catalans Dragons are a definite success and can field a good home crowd - great for rugby league in France.
Don't - Reject a deal from BetFair rumoured to be worth three quarters of a million per year in favour of a deal that involves no cash changing hands but players being brandished on trucks that people seldom see on the roads. No one could have predicted how much the chosen sponsor could have flopped this season but it's a pretty categorical failure in my opinion.
Do - Get The Rugby League of the Extraordinary advert out to as many people as is humanly possible, take a punt and get it on once or twice at primetime, it packs a punch and it could seriously work.
The marketing drive coincides with the news that this season has seen the highest attendance figures since Super League began in 1996 and was up 6.7% on last year's total at a cool 1.88 million. Although this figure is still dwarfed in comparison to the NRL attendance of over 3.1 million, I was surprised to discover that it just edges out the total Aviva Premiership attendances for 2010-2011, which was watched by 1.75 million fans. So, comparatively, rugby league isn't doing too badly at all when it comes to spectators. If only the viewing figures came close to rugby union's, they'd have cracked it, and that's what I really believe this campaign can do for them.
As adverts go, The Rugby League of the Extraordinary is a good one. If I saw it as a non-league fan I think it has enough spark to set something alight but it's not enough to keep it on youtube when - at the time of writing - it has under 3000 views and I suspect most of them rugby league fans. The rights to show the Aviva Premiership have been sold to BT, opening up huge gaps on ESPN and Sky Sports from next season and if rugby league was to miss out on this unmissable opportunity it would be a travesty, it needs to capitalise and it needs to happen quickly, if there's a time for rugby league to shine in a mass-audience sense, that time is now.