Well there you go. When we look back and try to identify the day rugby league in the United Kingdom died, this promo might be Patient Zero.
Sure, we’ve seen a lot of dipshittery before. Wastes of money, like the latest rebranding “featuring the angular lines of the George Hotel”. Rules made up on the fly. Consistenct insolvencies. Nonsensical and inconsistent application of suspension and salary cap penalties. Nitwit competition formats like the Magic 8 Ball thing they’re trying to convince us “just needs time to bed in”.
Sure, we’re used to seeing lots of complete fabrications in their press releases – we’re used to it now, and just laugh them off. We don’t believe the denials that crowds and viewership are down – it makes sense to lie about that stuff, especially if sponsors pay next to nothing now. We know that expansion is only going to be encouraged when the organisation joining up is going to fund itself and everyone else – we’ve given up on any new frontiers that will outlast a rich guy’s short term attention span. We don’t even expect any standards to be upheld, given that the last three Bradford owners passed the “fit & proper” test, and Wakefield play out of a dilapidated shipping container facility. We’ve accepted that any advertising will be done for the sake of doing it, and in no way targeted – like the signage on the ticket gates at Stratford for the Four Nations. We even tolerate the complete lack of competence from the television commentary when we watch the games – after all, we can always turn the sound down.
We understand that, as fans, our sport might be good on the field, but it’s shitty once you look outside those white lines. We get that. The game can survive that.
But there’s no need to rub it in everyone’s faces with Johnny Vegas. Johnny has, unfortunately, never been remotely funny. But even Ricky Gervais wouldn’t have saved this concept: fat, boobish, possibly drunk, northern guy in a 50 year old replica jersey shouting gibberish at the camera, “explainin’ nit”. The script was pure nonsense. The delivery caused EasyJet to rethink all flights to Benidorm out of Manchester.
This was in a week where we launched some new and pointless Transformers-look-a-like branding, but left the ridiculous BetFred Super League logo as is. I don’t want to be too critical, because I have no idea what you’d do with “BetFred” to make it look or sound good. But that money may as well have been barbecued if you’re going to follow it up with Johnny Vegas ranting nonsense, and call it a “Season Launch”
We’ve just bilked some rich guys in Toronto out of a bunch of money so they can pay for semi-pro rugby league players to travel to Canada once a year. By accident, we might pick up some fans of the sport in North America – but only if they never see that video.