New slogan lacks balls

Basketball Australia’s attempt to smash the world record for people dribbling basketballs fell short at Federation Square, but that wasn’t the only thing lacking enough balls.

The event was also used to unveil the governing body’s new branding as it looks to enter a new phase in Australian Basketball.

With perception of the game at an all-time low and the national men’s competition possibly facing its last chance to get things right, BA’s new slogan had to make an instant statement. It had to be bold, in-your-face with attitude. It had to contain the message: ‘We’ve had enough of being the butt of people’s jokes, we’re not going to take it any more. We’re coming back. The giant is about to awoken.’

Instead, the best BA could come up with was “Basketball: everyone’s game.”

It’s weak.

It simply acknowledges one of the game’s main criticisms – as Roy and HG joked, it’s everyone’s game…as long as you’re tall. The slogan instead had to sell the game’s strengths.

All of the NBL’s previous marketing slogans (not that they ever spent enough money to ensure they were effective) focused on the experience of watching basketball. “Nothin’ any better” and “Live and Amazing” were two of the most recent examples. However, “everyone’s game” instead seems to focus on playing the game at the grassroots level. This is not the sport’s problem; new CEO Larry Sengstock hasn’t missed an opportunity to remind media that there are 600,000 Australians playing basketball.

One can only hope that BA makes more of an impression when it finally unveils the ‘newNBL’ in the next fortnight. The composition of the league is unlikely to differ much from the 2008/09 version, so creativity will be required to convince onlookers that it is actually a new league.

One proposed change – shortening quarters to 10 minutes – may suit the game’s broadcasters, but cannot be justified as a positive change for fans who will be paying the same ticket prices for less action.

That’s an impossible sell for the most competent marketers, let alone those who come up with slogans like “everyone’s game”.