West Coast Eagles: Goals and Guerrilla Marketing

It was crude to say the least, but our first ambush marketing attempt took place in 1991 at the AFL Grand Final. It was far from successful, but the following year MD Kym Illman worked out the camera angles and paid a group of kids $5 each to hold up signs at the city end of Subiaco Oval. After six games of free exposure the AFL worked out was going on and shut Illman’s sign holders down.

That was the catalyst for the Eagles and Messages On Hold to sign a sponsorship deal that resulted in ‘the hands’ becoming a regular feature at every game henceforth. In 1997, Messages On Hold became a major sponsor of the club and today, Kym Illman was recognised for the company’s 20+ years of support at the 2016 season launch breakfast.


Original Ambush 1992

Peter Sumich watches the footy fly through the goals at an ambush stunt back in ’92.

That makes us one of only seven major companies to hit that milestone.

2016 is the 30th anniversary of the Eagles being part of the AFL, and we’ve loved the ride every season, especially the years we earned a premiership.

For much of their history, the Eagles were the lone wings of WA pride in the national sporting arena. Sure, we now have the Dockers for a bit of derby rivalry, but we’ve continued to stick by our boys in blue & gold and they’ve always managed to impress.

If you get a chance to walk through the Perth offices of Messages On Hold, you’ll see our walls are adorned with mounted team photos from every season, and while the faces change, the spirit remains.


You’ve seen us there at the home games. You may have even held our cardboard hands aloft in elation as the ball slides straight through from the 50-metre mark. Or used one to block the brutal 3pm sun on the eastern stands. We’ve loved being a part of the game and by staying loyal fans, we’ve earned some loyal fans of our own.  Plus, since that first stunt back in ’91, we’ve secured a fortune in free publicity; just have a look at our ambush marketing gallery.

So thank you to the coaches, support staff, umpires and of course, all the players who have made their mark under the big lights at Subiaco. We’ll keep cheering you on and here’s hoping we’ll see you at the 2016 Grand Final.