Alec Swann - Gimmicks at large in the second city

Northamptonshire Telegraph's sports writers Jon Dunham, Jim Lyon and Alec Swann.

Northamptonshire Telegraph's sports writers Jon Dunham, Jim Lyon and Alec Swann.

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Northants have got one, Lancashire have got one, Glamorgan had one but have got rid of it, Hampshire had two but don’t have one any more, Yorkshire have managed three, nobody knows what Derbyshire’s is and Warwickshire have got one but changed the other part of it.

I’m referring to, if it hasn’t become apparent already, the nicknames of county cricket clubs (or brand names for those of a marketing persuasion).

This week, along with the rebranding of the Friends Life t20 to the laughably daft Natwest T20 Blast, you may have noticed that Warwickshire, for this competition only, will be known as the Birmingham Bears.

I’m actually at a loss to explain how and why they have come to this decision so the words of their chief executive, Colin Povey, will have to suffice.

“Birmingham and Edgbaston has been the Club’s home since 1886 and we believe that adopting the Birmingham Bears name for the NatWest t20 Blast presents a great opportunity for us to engage even more closely with fans living and working at the heart of the City.

“Asian families, business men and women working in the city’s commercial districts and local cricket clubs are three particular audiences the Club is seeking to work with more next season.”

All well meaning of course but predictably of the modern-day management speak variety that says a lot while not saying anything at all.

I can almost hear the conversation in a city centre office sometime next summer.

“Did you know that the Brimingham Bears are playing in the city?”

“They’ve been there for over 100 years haven’t they?”

“Yeah.”

“Are you going tonight?”

“No.”

“See you Monday.”

“Alright.”

Okay, perhaps that is a touch cynical but if this rebranding results in a significant rise in paying punters at Edgbaston next year then I, for one, will be astonished.

It seems to the thinking in marketing circles that nonsensical gimmicks like this actually work.

Well I’ve got news for you Mr Marketing Man - they don’t.

I know that Northamptonshire aren’t referred to as the Steelbacks by their supporters and in three years playing for Lancashire I didn’t hear the term ‘Lightning’ used once.

Not by players, fans, staff, coaches, anybody.

People go to watch the cricket because they want to go to watch the cricket and this rings true for Twenty20, Test matches, one-day internationals and County Championship games.

The game sells itself and if it is marketed properly - simply informing people of the dates of games is generally a good place to start - and if the team in their area are winning games, which is the best selling tool of them all, then more people may decide to give it a try.

Brirmingham Bears? They’ll be Warwickshire again before you know it.