Trevor Beattie on Advertising

'Good sports' ruin their chances of beating football at its own game

Let's talk about sport. Or as it's known in the media these days, Premier League football. And there's the rub. This summer was Other Sport's one big chance, perhaps last big chance, to market itself back into the football-flooded hearts of the barmy armchair army.

Think about it. No World Cup, no Euro 2005. (For English men or women as of last Saturday.) No bloody excuses. So, what evidence are we being offered that there is more on the British sporting menu than the ubiquitous minted vegetables of Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United?

Well there's rugby. But it's the awkwardly branded "British and Irish Lions tour''. It's taking place in New Zealand, so the matches are scheduled to kick off at an even more awkward 8am. The Lions' most influential player is on the plane home injured, they've so far used the best part of 50 players, they've been mauled by the Maoris and they haven't even reached awkward Auckland yet.

The accompanying Adidas advertising push is entitled Last Man Standing. Luckily, from the Lions' PR standpoint, that man is one Alastair Campbell. They may be needing him.

Then, and more tellingly, there's cricket. Test Match cricket. And here the marketing and match planning gurus of the ECB are about to execute the worst dropped catch in the history of the game. It's the Ashes this summer. The Aussies are already here. They're jet lagged. Our wickets still have that first flush of green about them. So we're not going to play the First Test until ooh, late July.

Why? Because we're English. So we don't believe in taking any form of unfair home advantage. Oh, and more importantly, it was vital that the Lord's Test formed part of what the daft hat-wearing herberts of yesteryear quaintly refer to as The Season. Nothing to do with sport, you understand. Here we are talking Ascot, Wimbledon and Henley. Gawd help us.

But it gets worse. My heart sank yesterday when I read that UEFA had relented and agreed to make even more money by bending football's ever elastic rules and calendar yet further by allowing Liverpool to enter the qualifying stages of next year's European Championship. By "next year'' of course, they mean ooh, late July this year.

Just in time, in fact to steal the media spotlight away from Ashes fever, should it dare to take a grip on the nation's psyche. Yes, Other Sport has much to learn from the omnipotent marketing of f*******.

I SAW Sin City at the weekend. It's one of those movies which sets the clocks ticking in adland. Sadly, the race will now be on to see which agency creative team will be first to rip off its black and white/spot colour CGI technique for their unsuspecting client. While we should now brace ourselves for the pilfered pigmentation being used to endorse all manner of comely comestibles over the coming months, it is unlikely that the movie's other visual trait, that of the glorification and trivialisation of stomach-churning violence will be put to use flogging Pampers.

Funny, that.

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