Three Ways the Penrith Panthers and Port Adelaide Can Benefit From New Cross-Code Alliance

The NRL’s Penrith Panthers and AFL’s Port Adelaide Power have announced a cross-code partnership designed to help both clubs share expertise, innovate and liberally insert corporate buzzwords into their vernacular. 

So far the “informal collaboration” has consisted of Port Chairman David Koch paying a visit to the Panthers during the off-season, but according to Panthers CEO Jason Pascoe, the partnership has “the potential to extend past just football” (and beyond motivational talks from morning TV’s brightest star). 

Given the wide-ranging scope of the deal, The Public Apology’s Ben Shine has three suggestions for where the two clubs can benefit from the newly-inked deal.

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1. Crass Marketing Stunts

A couple years ago a certain Penrith GM and Channel 9 commentator started referring to his side as the “Sanyo Panthers” when calling games – a ploy which no doubt infuriated fans, but pleased the club’s corporate sponsor Sanyo.

When Oak Milk took over as Penrith’s major sponsor a year later, the club placed a fridge full of ice-cold Oak flavoured milk products behind the players and coaches during press conferences. Sadly, the NRL quashed this bold stunt – it was deemed a distraction from the game’s main sponsor, Telstra.

Clearly whoever is, or was, doing the marketing for the Panthers has some skills. He/she gets eyeballs for the sponsors in a creative way without detracting from actual game. This clever gimmick should’ve been promoted and encouraged, not punished.

Nonetheless, Port Adelaide could learn something from Penrith’s marketing strategy.

Port have two major sponsors: Energy Australia and Renault. Partnering with a power company is clever. There are synergies. The power team and the power company. It just works. Concerns over closely associating your club with a large emitter of carbon as the world rapidly warms due to anthropogenic climate change aside, there is no need to tinker with this partnership.

Admittedly I haven’t watched a Port Adelaide game in about seven years, but I imagine the players still run on to the field and charge through a large paper banner with encouraging and lame slogans on them (“flick the switch today, lads” etc). This odd AFL throwback can be maintained, but instead of paper the banner should be made from foam bricks, and the players should barge through it while driving Renauld’s latest model. Safe, fun and eye-catching. Just what the sponsors want.

2. Music

Penrith has a lot to learn here.

Port Adelaide has cleverly adopted one of the greatest songs ever written – Never Tear Us Apart by INXS – as their anthem. This song is amazing and an Australian classic. If you think otherwise you are clearly not in possession of a soul, heart nor anything that can be accurately described as “taste”.

In contrast, Penrith are saddled with “Go the Mighty Panthers”, a dated but nonetheless rousing ballad that sounds like it has been sung by Dolly Parton’s Australian step-sister.

Clearly there is room to improve. Either Penrith should “share” Port Adelaide anthem, i.e. rip it off as their own, or they should adopt one of Western Sydney’s heartland classics (something from Rose Tattoo, ACDC, or anything featuring Jimmy Barnes: Cold Chisel or the Tin Lids). If “Khe Sanh” doesn’t get bums on seats in Penrith then nothing will.

3. Club colours

Both clubs have very similar colours schemes: predominantly black, with a touch of teal.

This is strong. Black is powerful colour (or shade, whatever) and evokes powerful imagery. Black is the night. It is the shadow. It is scary and that is why I still sleep with a night-light on. Some of the fiercest sports teams ever known have wore black: the New Zealand All Blacks and Iceland from Mighty Ducks Two.

Black is imposing. Teal, on the other hand, is pathetic.

I don’t know the precise history of teal, but if I could take a guess, it was accidentally invented in the early 90s by a software designer in southern California while trying to develop a better version of Microsoft Paint.

After a few years of prominence in the 90s, teal disappeared. This is because people realised that is not an actual colour. It is kinda blue, but not quite. And it’s kinda green, but not really. It’s more a poor imitation of cyan, which is a big insult in the colour world. It’s akin to calling your girlfriend’s cooking a poor imitation of airplane food.

You know who else wore teal? The Mighty Ducks. But guess what. The NHL franchise (the Anaheim Ducks) ditched teal entirely in 2006 to adopt a more “modern” colour, the colour of the Duck’s notorious rivals from Iceland: black.

It’s time Penrith and Port Adelaide jettisoned the teal and started wearing all-black. Sure the Kiwis will get a little cranky for the brand infringement, but Australians have been stealing our neighbours’ inventions for years and we’ve successfully avoided full-scale war thus far, so what’s a little uniform change going to matter?

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The partnership between Port Adelaide and Penrith is historic. It symbolises a coming together of the two footballing codes, a détente in the internecine war between them, and a very modern form of collaboration.

It’s important this deal isn’t just lip service and a few window-dressing visits from executives to garner media attention. To work, it will have to be a meaningful commitment built on substance, openness and a shared desire to eradicate the colour teal from the world of sport once and for all .

By Ben Shine

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