West Coast Eagles

Risks Reap Rewards!

Most people like to play it safe, but personally I’m a big fan of taking risks. And so is Executive Chef and owner of The Fat Duck, Heston Blumenthal. After all, it was taking a risk that propelled him to superstardom.

Liquorice salmon. Snail porridge. Quail jelly. These aren’t your average run of the mill dishes, but he took a risk believing the public would develop an appetite for them. And he was right. The Fat Duck has been ranked one of the Top 5 Restaurants globally since 2004, and claimed top spot in 2005.

In Heston’s case, a calculated risk reaped huge dividends. The same applies in marketing. Let’s take an iconic Messages On Hold image – the yellow hands at AFL matches.

Our Managing Director, Kym Illman, knew it would be a risk ‘ambushing’ each game with his big yellow hands behind the goals. And sure enough he was right. (Once he was evicted from the ground!) Yes there was negative press, but he was able to go on radio and explain his motivation, ironically securing more free exposure at the same time.

You could think of it as a cost-benefit analysis. Is the potential reward greater than the risk? In our case yes. On one hand paying sponsors were upset, and there was some expected backlash from fans and viewers. But we were getting the Messages On Hold brand out to a national audience for the price of admission.

In the end we came to an agreement with West Coast that’s mutually beneficial. In fact – we’ve been a proud official sponsor for the last 20 years.

We’ve all heard this one before – “look before you leap”. But no one ever said you couldn’t leap at all! If you’ve done your research, weighed up the pros and cons and are prepared to take a risk, go with your gut! Next week we’ll take a look at how to manage any potential fallout.

– Magnus

Here’s a Handy Idea

If you’ve ever watched AFL, chances are you’re familiar with our ‘big hands’. Positioned behind the goals at Subiaco Oval, they’ve been prominent on every Eagles telecast since 1993. Of course, I’ll take any opportunity I can to get the Messages On Hold brand out there – and the recent Targa Tasmania was no exception.

I was competing in this 6 day event for the first time. My Evo 9 was one of 300 cars competing over nearly 2,000 kilometres of tarmac around this picturesque island state of Tasmania. Entrants comprise a myriad of well-known sports people, national & international celebrities and most importantly, lots of business people!

On the first day I was amazed at the number of locals that lined the transport stages (the bits we drive under normal road rules). Hundreds of kids would wave as we passed their schools or homes, so on Day 2 I packed several hundred hands in the car. Along the way I’d stop and hand out these hands to every child we saw. They, in turn, waved them at every subsequent car – and loved it! As you can imagine, every driver behind us, many of the prime candidates for Messages On Hold, spotted these branded hands bearing our logo for the rest of the day.

I chose to target the drivers instead of the general public because firstly, reaching the general public would be an expensive exercise and secondly, the drivers were easier to reach. This “sniper’s approach” to marketing meant that in the end, these fellow drivers were seeing upwards of 300 MOH hands a day and thinking “bloody hell, these guys are everywhere!”

I know what you’re thinking, “great idea!” right? Well it was, until I spun out, landed on some rocks and put the MOH Evo 9 race car out of action. But even then, we turned that into a promotional opportunity – have a look at the video here.

Smile – You’ve Just Been Ambushed!

For years I’ve been a devotee of getting the Messages On Hold logo exposed throughout the media without paying for it. We’ve ambushed AFL games, Ashes Cricket test matches, Wimbledon, live news broadcasts, even the Olympics. The result? Hundreds of thousands of dollars of free media exposure.
But isn’t there a risk of upsetting people with this cheeky (never illegal) form of marketing? Sure. After all, this sort of marketing can polarise people. Some love it, some hate it, most notice it and then get on with life – it’s no big deal.
I’m never going to do business with everyone. So why should I worry about alienating a small segment of the market. So many business people spend their lives treading the safe line, making sure they don’t do or say anything that might cause offence or gain unwanted attention.
Messages On Hold has always been “out there” and those who do business with us tend to love that sort of brash attitude. I remember when we ambushed Tim Gossage in the betting ring a minute prior to the start of the Melbourne Cup.
Glenn Wilson held up a Messages On Hold sign over Tim’s shoulder, not an easy task (he’s about 6’5″ tall). The phones went berserk. We must have received 40 calls from outraged viewers. I think we even lost a client over it. However, half the country saw that logo and focused on my business for 15 seconds.
“Would you give up a $2,000/year client in return for $50,000 worth of national exposure?” Is it ethical? That’s for you to decide. I can’t make the media expose my business, but if the opportunity presents itself and I don’t take advantage of it, more fool me.