The Panthers marketing gurus have managedÂ one of the biggestÂ sporting stuff-ups for some time – the PenrithÂ club releasing a marketing campaign that wrongly shows the players from the Canberra Raiders celebrating on material as opposed to their own players.
NRL News was at first thought it was a practical joke when an anonymous tip-off via email alerted us to the marketing nightmare that unfolded in Penrith.
Under the new motto of ‘Belong Believe’ the Panthers showed an image depicting Raider Clinton Schifcofske amongst team mates after kicking the winning goal in extra time against the Wests Tigers in 2006. The print run apparently amounting up to at least 100,000 copies of the incorrect marketing piece.
Pumping his fists in the air with excitement, the Raiders’Â former player SchifcofskeÂ isÂ swarmed byÂ other players at Canberra includingÂ Lincoln Withers, Jason Smith and Adrian Purtell.
“And, yeah, I know all about it,” is all Panthers boss Mick Leary could muster when discussing the situation with the media yesterday.
“I’ve only just finished speaking with my marketing staff and they know I’m not happy. That I can’t see a funny side to it.
“In any type of business it’s all about getting things right. But in this case it certainly isn’t right . . . someone has stuffed up.”
The error allegedly tracks back to Sydney advertising outletÂ Thomas Marsden – the company leaving account executive Raj Chikkerur to provide an overview of the situation.
“Oh, dear . . . dear, dear,” Chikkerur said of the mammoth blunder.
“Deary, deary me.”
As of last week, the Panthers had released up to 30,000 merchandiseÂ pamphlets with the wrong image emblazoned on the back page. The incorrect imageÂ is also the lead design inÂ a membership campaign already appearing on a full page ad – inÂ up toÂ 60,000 copies of Rugby League Week Magazine.
“So while you can’t see me, I’m in a cold sweat,” Chikkerur added. “I’ve never had my name in print and didn’t need the first time to be like this.
“But what can I say? This has never happened before. All we can do is apologise. I will apologise to people in the street if I have to.”
2008 was already a year to forget for the troubled Panthers club, poor results coupled with in-fighting saw the Penrith outfit re-assess their coach and roster for 2009.
Eventually finishingÂ 12th on the NRL ladder. But even after such a horror year, surely the Panthers and their advertising people could find at least one image of celebration?
“Look, without repeating myself all I can really say is that we’re not happy and we will be rectifying things,” Leary said.
So whoÂ actually chose the offending image for the Panthers?
When the question was put to Chikkerur, of the advertising agency – his response was;
“Yes, that would be my artist who chose it,” he confirmed.
“Right now, he’s on three days leave . . . but I’ll certainly be asking him about it on his return.”
After reading today’s headlines, chances are the artist might not bother heading back in to work.