Years ago

Funny More on the Adelaide Fellas

Received a call this morning to provide a bit more information about the Adelaide Fellas scenario.

As I had previously wondered, the "Adelaide Fellas Lightning" was certainly a preferred option for the club, but the sponsorship deal was directly linked to the "Adelaide Fellas" name eventuating. The club tried to negotiate the retention of the "Lightning" component, but it was not an option. As Cherie Smith has said in another thread, Fellas Gifts only considered the sponsorship to make business sense if the naming rights were exceptionally strong.

As is commonly known, the Adelaide WNBL team traditionally makes a loss and is a significant financial burden on the Association, but it is ideally something that many would hope to see continue to provide a goal for young, female players. That said, there has been and may continue to be opposition from people who think that the team could be disbanded so that the Association could focus on profitable or core areas.

It has not quite been an "Adelaide Fellas" or no-team-at-all crisis, but this development would definitely ease some pressure on the team. The decision has the support of most of the players, with two expressing their reservations.

Given the Wayville crowds (fairly small, high number of children entering by gold coin), the sponsorship is viewed, I think, as a rare and solid offer. In my opinion, it would be fair to say that with low attendances, the womens team may not have been in a fantastic bargaining position.

One very good point made is that this sponsorship has a very high percentage of "real aid" (sorry, read that article from ActualAid recently!). A naming rights sponsor of the 36ERS receives a hospitality suite, corporate box, signage and so on, which reduces the funds that make it directly to the bank. By comparison, Fellas Gifts are providing sponsorship in exchange for simple signage and this is more or less the only cost for the Association.

This answers my question about whether the sponsorship was even an option if "Lightning" was preserved in the team name.

I can't imagine that anyone is going to prefer the Fellas name and enjoy the change in identity, but it does bring some security to the women's team. From a branding perspective, it's a bit of a necessary evil; from the perspective of support, the team have gained a big corporate fan.

Topic #3173 | Report this topic

Years ago

Fellas Gifts should be given a huge pat on the back for supporting our Elite Women's side. Women's sport finds it hard to attract any form of large sponsorship and we should be supporting Fellas Gifts for its generous offer.
I agree that it will be sad to see the Lightning name go, but in time, we will all get over it. At the end of the day it will still be our Adelaide Team that gave us a number of championship victories and finals appearances.
Maybe some of the people who are not happy with the name should start attending the Women's games more regularly...
I hope that Fellas Gifts can give the team that little bit of extra they need to make it back to Number One&

Reply #36656 | Report this post

Years ago

yes thanks fellas for sponsoring the side :)

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Years ago

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Reply #36662 | Report this post

what the  
Years ago

I just think it is funny - and greatly appreciate the money invested in our girls.
who are great acheivers for our sport here in SA

Reply #36675 | Report this post

Years ago

Anyone know how much Fellas is giving BASA?

Reply #36679 | Report this post

Liam Flynn  
Years ago

I scratch my head a little on the name change for two reasons:

1) The potential devaluing of a trademark or "brand" that has become synonymous with excellence in South Australian women's basketball
2) The transient nature of corporate dollars in professional sport in the area of sponsorship.

Let me say from the beginning that I am not suggesting that this sponsorship is a bad thing for one moment, in fact it is surely a huge boost for the sport in this state - BASA & Fellas Gifts should be commended. I just think its an interesting decision from Fellas Gifts to push the name change from their end and also for BASA to even put the name change "on the table" as a benefit to being a major sponsor of the team.

This might be a weird statement to some - their have been some excellent examples put forward by a lot of people on this forum above about teams that "incorporate' sponsors names as part of the team name e.g. Pura Milk 36ers, Camry Crows. However, the whole point is that it is an 'incorporation' not a 'takeover' because in essence the main reason that a company sponsors a sporting team is to align itself with the strong brand association that the team has built up within a target market that the company has identified it wants to promote its products/services to. Fellas gifts have obviously chosen to align their name with the Lightning because of the strong 'brand' that the Lightning have within the basketball community, particularly the female and family demographics, and they see a market here to promote their gift stores to. However, the Adelaide Crows would never change their name to the Adelaide "Camrys" (no matter how much cash Toyota offered them) because they would be devaluing the teams brand name that has been built over the years within their supporter base, media and football community. In the same way by changing the Lightning team name to the Adelaide Fellas, the gift store is actually "diluting" the 'brand name' they have brought into; which, in away, devalues the product they have paid for.

Building a "brand name" within your supporters, the media and the general community takes time - Adelaide Lightning "brand" has been built over almost a decade. Every player and coach who has ever represented the Lightning has added to it over the years, whether that be from team success (WNBL Championships), individual Accolades (WNBL MVP awards) or community work (which the girls do a great deal of). I am sure that the Adelaide Fellas could be built up over a similar period of time (5-10 years), however, in my experience in sponsorships long term partnerships are more of a minority.
What would be the ramifications if Fellas ceased their sponsorship after two years and a new company came on board? Would the team name stay the same, revert back to the "old" Lightning name or take on the name of the new corporate partner? This chopping and changing disenchants supporters and goes against the integrity and value of the trademark.

I think a terrific compromise would be for the team to keep its 'brand' in tact and 'incorporate' the gift store's name - the Fellas Adelaide Lightning. In this way the company gets their name alongside a strong trademark and, the club gets the sponsorship and the brand remains in tact. The Gift shop would also get a ton of good will and positive PR because of their compromise to keep a strong South Australian icon untouched.

Lastly, name changes wont ensure that Fellas Gifts get an immediate return on their investment&it will more come down to how the company leverages its relationship with the team e.g. Match day promotions, DM campaigns, joint marketing initiatives as well as how BASA promotes the team in the community.


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Doctor E  
Years ago

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Doctor E  
Years ago

Liam - spot on.

Reply #36690 | Report this post

Years ago

Totally agree with Liam

Reply #36691 | Report this post

Years ago

If I could give out two little basketballs, Liam would get them for that post. An experienced perspective, too, from someone who works in sponsorship and has recently met up with people in similar areas within NBA teams.

Reply #36692 | Report this post

Years ago

Yes well done Liam - but will anyone listern? (BASA) Is it a done deal? If not why not get BASA out there to find a better sponsporship? Do they have the wrong people in the Job? this opportunity has come with little effort so take it?

Reply #36693 | Report this post

Double Clutch  
Years ago

Agree completely with Liam. Some additional thoughts for the issue. While I fully support the concept of a women's basketball team to maintain a goal for young female players and to display this great talent the SA junior system supports I don't support the idea of the team being in their own stadium if they are:

  • A massive strain on cash resources.
  • Move to a new stadium just to create their own identity, only to sell that identity within two years.

While I bag on women's ABL basketball on here I truly enjoyed watching the women play before the 36ers. Despite this enjoyment I haven't gone to one single game since the move to Wayville. With such low crowds wouldn't the best compromise be a move back to the Dome pre-Sixers matches? There are numerous benefits:
  • The sponsorship can be changed to Adelaide "Fellas" Lightning. The name changed is offset by the higher crowds which will be watching the games. Potential for over 4,000 new faces to be shown to the Fellas branding.
  • It adds value to the 36er tickets. One of the fall-offs in crowd numbers can be attributed to the fact that the salary cap fell by 30% a year after the lightning left yet ticket prices increased.
  • Helps increase merchandise sales. Wasn't the move away from bodysuits meant to open up new merchandise opportunities? But who would want to buy a "Fellas" top? Adelaide Fellas Lightning merchandise would be fine and also allows for a potential bigger market being exposed to 36er crowds.

I love the academy concept but maybe the academy can play the Wednesday and Sunday pre-games. The "Fellas" can play the pre-game Saturdays (maybe with a triple header with the academy in the afternoon). If there isn't enough Sixer Saturday matches maybe have the women play one or two games at Mt. Barker and Wayville. Personally I feel this compromise would benefit all parties and the entire South Australian ball public.

Reply #36699 | Report this post

Years ago

And by moving back to being second class status that is helping the imagine of womens basketball how?

Also those people who do go to the womens games now pay to go; and where do you think that money goes?

That's income that wouldn't exist if the girls games were played as a curtain raiser.

Reply #36702 | Report this post

Double Clutch  
Years ago

And how much do they actually make off the women's games? A few children paying a gold coin to get in?

I think the increase in sixer ticket sales would make up for that, let alone a small amount of merchandise sales. Plus saving on staff by not opening two stadiums etc.

I don't see how playing before the sixers makes the women second class. Be in such a weak position as to wipe out their entire history for a few dollars is what constitutes a second class sporting organization in my opinion.

I have a lot of respect for the women playing, but can we just cut the politically correct bull and just admit that women's basketball will never be a major showcase event and do what would be the financially viable option for an organization in some deep financial crisis. If Basa was swimming in money, I would have a different view, but Basa isn't.

Reply #36703 | Report this post

Lightning Fan  
Years ago

Double clutch, how interesting that you have never been to a game at Wayville, yet you seem to be expert on the dwindling crowd numbers!

Try coming to a game and seeing how much better the feeling is in front of a crammed, hot but excited crowd!

Sure beats that drop in the ocean atmosphere that is the Dome.

Reply #36705 | Report this post

Double Clutch  
Years ago

Fair enough comment, but I've been to packed ABL games at Wayville and can get the general idea.

Fact of the matter is I enjoy watching women's NBL ball. I don't enjoy watching it that much to drive out to Wayville and pay to watch a game in the middle of the NBL season.

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Years ago

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Years ago

I am still flabbergasted that the sponsor would even put forward the name 'Adelaide Fellas' as an ideal option! Its very presumptuous!!

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Years ago

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Reply #36711 | Report this post

wish I could dunk  
Years ago

what is all the fuss about ????

Reply #36712 | Report this post

Mr Big  
Years ago

I think that fellas gifts have done a great job with this. Look at the publicity they have already. Good move on both sides

Reply #36715 | Report this post

Years ago

Spot on Yogee, I've heard rumours the sponsorship is for around half a million dollars over the next five years.

An outstanding support for women's basketball in this State that should be supported by all.

Reply #36716 | Report this post

Liam Flynn  
Years ago


It makes perfect business sense to ensure the longevity and the integrity of your brand name. Ask a company like Coke if they would exept a billion dollar cheque to change their name to "Cake" for a three year period - what do you reckon they would say? Of course the cash injection would be welcomed in the short term but the Coke name would be severly tarnished for many years and sales would most definately be negatively affected.

By working with the sponsor on a "partnership" with many facets, that is not reliant on 'renaming' as the main feature (as mentioned before things like joint marketing initiatives, dual branding campaigns, match day promos), which would ensure the company a quality return on investment, the club would not have to mortgage the team name. It just seems wierd that neither side could see that the Lightning trademark has an entrenched character within the SA community and that a corporate partnership should work alongside it...not replace it with their own brand.

I am sure the club worked very hard on this deal (it seems the dollar amount is a very good one for women's professional sports) and I am sure the money will be directed into much needed recourses...I just think somethings should be "untouchable". If the team is in a position where it has to surrender its name for dollars, then perhaps there are other areas that should be investigated to ensure financial viability - but I think the name should not be one of them.

Just my opinion.

Reply #36717 | Report this post

Years ago

I just feel for the guards like Erin- they will be constantly called 'Little Fellas' and Laura a 'Big Fella'.
It will be great to get out and have a look- Imagine telling the missus "I'll be back in 2 hours luv, just got to see a Fella about a basketball".
I think we should get over it and be grateful for a sponsor. However when I was a kid, I often wondered why no whites could play for New Zealand in rugby, because they were All Blacks.
Just hope White Lady Funerals sponsor 36ers.

Reply #36738 | Report this post

Moses Guthrie  
Years ago

I'm not commenting on anyone's sexuality here, but what if a player in the team was a transexual. They could become a poster child for the Fellas!

I'm with Liam. I don't like it, regardless of the money. I think they've unintentionally devalued the product.

As for those who say it isn't important ..... would the 36ers change their name to Sheilas? It's exactly the same argument.

On that note - best of luck to the girls and here's to a terrific season.

Reply #36743 | Report this post

Years ago

Thanks God Dick Smiths does not have naming rights to Lightning or 36ers. Remember what happen to Red Heads?

Reply #36746 | Report this post

what the  
Years ago

why not split some games and see what happens - roster some for the dome and some at wayville - let the people vote with their feet

yes the atmosphere at wayville is good - but no aircond!
yet you get it at a local recreation centre!

but missing out on seeing Lauren jackson play is dissapointing - now i hear penny taylor will suit for canberra as well!

ideal double header canberra v fellas as a first game before 36ers
would get a few 1,000 more in the door at the dome

Reply #36750 | Report this post

Years ago

Liam, while you make some very good points, I need you to clarify one point you make -

"1) The potential devaluing of a trademark or "brand" that has become synonymous with excellence in South Australian women's basketball"

What is it that's being devalued? Is it the name's historical value? It is the excellence in performance from the team now that the name has changed" It can't be the name's $ value as it has not attracted a sponsorship buyer like it has now. I think the the $ value of the name has increased with the Fellas' sponsorship as it is now worth what this buyer was prepared to pay for it.

Reply #36757 | Report this post

Years ago

Correction to above - Is it the excellence..... not it is the excellence.....

Reply #36758 | Report this post

Liam Flynn  
Years ago


A really good question...probably bit of a 'chicken and the egg' debate here but I'll try to answer as best as I can.

Firstly, yes I think the team's historical "brand" value has been lessened because of the name change&that is quite obvious to most (Please dont get this confused with their achievements because they will never loose any value!). If you look at some of the strongest sporting brands in Australia at the moment  Collingwood, Brisbane Broncos, Essendon Bombers, there haven't been too many, if any, changes to their name.

IMO A companies brand is only as valuable as the awareness it has in the market place - its "Brand Awareness". "Brand Awareness" comes from a variety of things; some of which are the quality of the product, the consistency in its theme and the way it is marketed to its customers. The Lightning 'brand', that has been developed over the past decade has always been of high quality and has had a consistency in its messages to its customers - strong female role models, healthy living, hard working team basketball. And with the limited funds the team has had on offer, Chris (Jan in the past) and the girls have done the best job they can of promoting their team through public relations and 'pressing the flesh'. They have built a strong brand awareness with the basketball community and to an extent the wider SA sporting community.

This might not have always translated into huge crowd numbers and sponsorship dollars, however, if you take into account the nature of professional women's sports (that there is minimal match day support and even less corporate support), and compare the strength of their brand on a 'apples to apples' level with other women's sporting teams, then they are doing a terrific job!

It's this existing Lightning brand that attracted Fellas Gifts to part with their sponsorship dollars and was obviously seen by the company as a vehicle for them to promote their products. If the Lightning brand had no value, then they would have spent their marketing dollars elsewhere e.g. TV, Radio advertising or even with another sporting team.

The newly formed Adelaide Fellas 'brand' hasn't achieved any of the accolades or brand awareness that the existing "Lightning" brand has, and so IMO, has a brand of lesser value. "Adelaide Fellas" are not the benchmark of excellence in the WNBL competition that the Lightning are, nor have they produced any WNBL Champions or Olympians. You may say that these two teams are one and the same 'brand', but I bet you that more average South Australian would know who the Adelaide "Lightning" and wouldn't have the first clue who the Adelaide Fellas are. As I mentioned before, that this new brand will take time to gather value, but at the present time it has a lower value then the old one.

As I mentioned before, I think Fellas Gifts should be commended for supporting the Lightning girls so I certainly don't want to put a negative connotation on their involvement. The point I am making is that I think their is a strong, historical trademark that they have bought into, and with that comes a responsibility to both support it and work with it instead of discarding it for something that is an unknown quantity. If anyone wants to continue this topic of brand awareness, please email me as I don't want to harp anymore on this topic.

Good luck for the season Lightning!

Reply #36761 | Report this post

Years ago

yep lets leave it be now i reckin its been done to death thanks fellas for sponsoring the team

Reply #36762 | Report this post


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