Where to start? Ok, lets begin with the above, Molly Meldrum, that
throwback to a different Australian era.
One that does not exist today,
except perhaps in the cultural imaginings of the commercial networks or
minds of certain kinds of politicians looking to blow a dogwhistle or
You might question my early taste in Australian TV but in
the early 90's I laughed along with Molly, Darryl Somers, Red Symons,
Dickie Knee and Plucka Duck on Hey Hey it's Saturday, as did many Australians.
has played his part as a noted Australian and contributed much to our
musical life. Many of our iconic bands benefited from his help, guidance
and from what I understand, personal largess.
But today Molly
exists largely as a signpost along the road we've travelled to get to
where we are now. But representative of a modern Australia? Nope.
moved on from the many things that first attracted me to Australia as a
migrant. You can blame Paul Hogan and the hugely successful "Shrimp on a
Barbie" tourism campaign for this blog post.
But I no longer
hold to those caricatures, having embraced the rapid change we've
experienced as a globalised and multicultural nation. I still retain a
certain affection for them but that's as far as it goes.
Even the most popular show in Australian history, Neighbors, has finally succumbed to our new realities and now features a (gasp) Indian family.
Which brings me to GreenEDGE and its marketing to Australians.
everything I know about marketing I could write on the back of a
postage stamp, but I do not like where GreenEDGE is going with its image
In my opinion the GreenEDGE approach to date has been unsophisticated and in many ways exclusive, and alienating.
So far we've seen associations with two Melbourne football teams with mixed reputations,
St Kilda and the Melbourne Storm, a faded relic in Molly Meldrum and
while not a bad thing, a decidedly Melbourne-centric persona.
what about the rest of the country? My city, Sydney? My suburb, whose
citizens are predominantly Chinese and Arabic-speaking migrants? You.
presume they think their approach to date will attract a broader
audience, but it's an audience I don't see much of these days. An
homogeneous Australia that shares the same cultural experiences to the
exclusion of others. An inward looking Australia.
One that still
views Molly Meldrum as a contemporary cultural icon or localised
football codes as the center of our sporting lives, with every other
sport orbiting around them.
Can GreenEDGE even be considered an
Australian team with its current projection? I'm starting to think BMC,
Rabobank and Garmin-Cervelo are more broadly Australian in their outlook
than the team supposedly representing us around the world.
next? Robbie McEwen and Stuart O'Grady on court at the Australian Open
celebrity day hitting balls with Lleyton and Sam? Plucka Duck as the
team mascot? Special appearances on Home and Away and Neighbours?
is the irony in GreenEDGE's approach to date. Australian cycling fans
are attracted to pro cycling precisely because of the European nature of
the sport, dare I say its "multiculturalism"? We follow the sport
precisely because it isn't footy and Molly?
We celebrate great
exploits by riders who are not Australian and as a result we have
developed a more sophisticated outlook that undersands a sport filled
with nuance and complexity.
We embraced a world where a man
named Merckx is the greatest of all time. We love Thor as much as
Robbie. Cav as much as Gossy. We know why Belgians are cobbled masters
and take the piss out of a couple of lads from Luxembourg like they were
our mates. We know all about modern Spanish livestock practices and
American Grand Jury process.
We were fans before Australian
riders came to such incredible prominence, and pro cycling in Australia
progressed and matured without these limited localised associations. I'd
like to see that continue.
Another irony in this is the makeup
of GreenEDGE which includes riders from Eritrea, Japan, the Netherlands,
New Zealand, Switzerland, Lithuania, Canada and South Africa. I call
that an opportunity missed. In fact Melbournites are the minority in
What's also missing for me right now is engagement with their real supporters, cycling fans in each of the major cities.
weekend's Melbourne launch was poorly attended by the punters and there
seemed to be little in the way of advance promotion by the team to the
cycling community itself.
So how about meet and greet Twitter rides? A couple of dinners, maybe a picnic in Centennial Park in Sydney.
reckon there would be a bigger Twitter inspired turnout for Robbie and
Alby (Allan Davis) in Brisbane than there was for the Melbourne
These are the people who will buy and wear the
merchandise and support the sponsors. These are the people who will be
awake through the night watching GreenEDGE ply their trade on a
multicultural SBS or global Eurosport.
What about the rest of us, GreenEDGE?