Kevin Sheedy: ‘Altruistic’, ‘Pragmatic’ or Master Marketer?

Written by evanpilk

First,  ‘Anzac Day Clash’, then, ‘Dream time at the G’ now,  Kevin Sheedy is bringing the Country to the MCG when Essendon and Geelong Football clubs meet for the fourth round of the 2016 season.
The ‘Country Game’ match is intended to honour Australian farmers.
Will history repeat itself with 20,000 fans that cannot get in to the game – as occurred in the first Anzac Day Match between Collingwood and Essendon?
Kevin Sheedy has promised a competitive Essendon team for his latest AFL brainchild, … will be war when they play….”

Country Game launch:

Tom Hawkins, Kevin Sheedy, Joe Daniher. Picture: Wayne Ludbey

Kevin  Sheedy returned to the Essendon Football Club to help negotiate the public relations nightmare arising from the drugs scandal and the ASADA/WADA findings: “The General Manager, Commercial Development and Innovation position will play a key strategic role ……….” This role will be community engagement and marketing.

Has this event had its genesis from Sheedy’s pragmatism, the need for Essendon to restore community engagement and faith in the club’s integrity after the drug scandal?
Is this a shrewd combination of country/city engagement with a sponsored ‘Field Day’ held at Yarra Park?
Or is this annual match to become the third altruistic match at the MCG?
Surely all of the above!
Sheedy spent two years touring rural and regional Australia noting the effect that the GFC and drought had on these communities -significant steps towards identifying and segmenting the market.
He noted many country players (past and present) in each club and is including current players with farming backgrounds in promotions.

The Target market is all country people. The secondary target market is the existing membership of both clubs. A demographic, psychographic and lifestyle segmentation approach. Sheedy understands “…..(that) marketers must understand people, relationships and psychological drivers”. Barry & Weinstein, 2010. P.318.

Encouragement for attendance is a sponsored Field Day on Yarra Park complete with heavy farming equipment displays, a Farmers Market and live musical events showcasing country artists prior to the evening match. Attendance costs could possibly considered business expenses – perhaps tax deductible!
Iacobucci, (2013, p. 27) states“A company can’t please all customers. But it can delight a segment of them”.   Sheedy will test this statement by attempting to ‘delight’ most of the customers.

The Smart Marketer has also scheduled a special event to recognise volunteers of the Country Fire Authority (CFA). An inspired idea – 250 volunteer members to march around the MCG during half time.
“One of the AFL’s greats,.., has come to us … to partner with the Geelong and Essendon football clubs ……-(with) a new initiative which pays tribute to the contribution that rural and regional areas make to football.”

Free publicity via articles and photographs to assist with the profitability of the event.
Herald Sun
Adelaide Advertiser
Geelong Advertiser
Weekly Times
Shepparton News

Geelong Football Club
Essendon Football Club


Where will they all fit?
• MCG capacity – 95,000 people.
• Geelong – 45,000 members.
• Essendon – 47,000 members.
• Target nationwide country audience – 8.6 million people.
• Ticket pricing – $30 – $60.
Compelling mathematics!

Special accommodation packages and events ‘pre’ and ‘post’ game have been advertised as far afield as Western Australia: “WACFL, Travel & Sports and Landmark are giving country football followers the opportunity to experience …..(a) weekend in Melbourne filled with football, farming and fellowship and the chance to rub shoulders with Sheedy

Fitting with Corporate Goals
The Board cited a number of objectives (Essendon Football Club 2015nnual Report) – with the last one being “to establish a new Blockbuster game that delivers over 80,000 attendees annually”.
The Country game is expected to achieve all of the above, dovetailing with the objectives of re-establishing the brand proposition, increasing fan engagement and the clubs community focus.

Mr. Sheedy has put the marketing strategy into action by touring the regions of Australia and engaging with locals. Sponsorship and publicity are on track.
Success for the Master Marketer will assist with increasing the community focus and to re-affirm Essendon as an industry leader.


Barry, J, Weinstein, A, 2010, Business psychographics revisited: from segmentation theory to successful marketing practice, Journal of Marketing Management, Western Publishers Ltd., Jamaica.
Essendon Football Club 2015, Annual Report 2015, viewed 1 April 2016, retrieved from
Iacobucci, Marketing Management, Student Edition, CENGAGE Learning, page 27


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