Over the last week or so, the local rags have contained a couple of lift outs pumping up the Warriors for season 2013. The most striking aspect of these lift outs is not the player profiles. It is not the constant “there’s-change-in-the-air” tone to the opening of the season. It is the absolute proliferation of jerseys that the Warriors will turn out in this year.
In most lift outs there are six different jerseys advertised for sale. Now news is through that the Warriors will also be playing in a replica Wellington jersey for their clash against the Bulldogs at the Caketin. Sorry. Westpac Stadium. So, make that seven options in 2013.
Over the last couple of years we have seen a replica 1995 jersey, the Te Toki Pounamu jade green Maori design, about four combinations of silver and black, a starry blue design, the horrendous red design from last season, three black and white designs, an all black design, a largely white design, any combination of black/white/red, and the worst three of the lot – the godawful green paintball design, the godawful pink paintball design, and the NZ flag design that Micheal Luck was so delighted to wear. It looked like Phil Judd had reunited The Swingers (lock up your daughters).
So in three seasons, the Warriors have played in close to 20 different jerseys. And that’s just the first team. Granted, a lot of those have been designed for pre-season games, but that doesn’t stop the franchise from trying to flog them off at $185 a pop.
To be fair, this is not a situation unique to the Warriors. Most NRL clubs have a range of jerseys they use throughout a season, particularly when it come s to the Heritage Round/s. But it seems that the Warriors have taken it to new levels of absurdity.
We hear constantly of players desperate to play for the pride of the jersey. In situations where a particular jersey has remained largely unchanged over a long period of time (a la the All Black jersey), this could be deemed a valid claim. But when the jersey is a source of constant change, that claim becomes a complete nonsense.
By changing the jersey on an ongoing basis, teams like the Warriors run the risk of killing their own golden goose to some degree. Whilst there is absolutely nothing wrong with attempting to gain revenue via their marketing arm, why would the average punter want to shell out close to $200 to purchase a jersey with a shelf life of less than a year? It won’t take long until they simply can’t be bothered.
The plethora of different styles means that the average Warriors fan has no idea which jumper they are likely to show up in on any given game day. Fans want to be able to relate to their chosen brand, and the jersey is the obvious link – break that link and you risk alienating your fan base.
And whilst you can’t blame the players for decisions made by the marketing gurus, don’t try telling us on a Wednesday you are playing for the jersey when you have no idea which one you will be turning up in three days later.
To the marketing team, a quick note – the best way to sell more jerseys is not to make more of them. The best way to sell more jerseys is to win a Premiership.