27 December 2009
ABC brand name policy runs aground on Etihad Stadium
I have written before on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's policy of refusing to use brand names in the titles of sporting stadiums and the like.
At one level, this is obviously laughable - intelligent, adult, ABC announcers are forced to use silly euphemisms like "the Scottish hamburger company" for McDonald's or generic terms like "the domestic 4-day cricket competition" when they weren't allowed to say "Pura Cup".
At another level, it's unworkable. Seriously - how can you discuss modern Western life without mentioning brand names at least sometimes? Apple, Google, Windows, iPhone. Several times I've been lined up to be interviewed on-air by the ABC on aspects of consumer behaviour - once on the subject of whether consumers have too many choices - and been asked by the producer: "Oh, and please don't mention any brand names."
But never was the sheer idiocy of the "no brand names" policy exposed more clearly than on ABC Local Radio this post-Christmas sporting weekend.
For every AFL season since it opened, the ABC has referred to "Docklands Stadium" or just "the Docklands", refusing to acknowledge successive "commercial" names: Colonial Stadium, Telstra Dome and - commencing in 2009 - Etihad Stadium. Yet, after Supermaxi yacht "Wild Thing" raffled its naming rights, ABC Radio coverage of the Sydney-Hobart Yacht Race yesterday was happy to call the boat by the name of its sponsor... Etihad Stadium.
As it happens, Etihad Stadium - the sponsor - probably got more than its fair share of early media coverage on ABC Radio on Boxing Day, as Etihad Stadium - the boat - was the first high-profile retirement from the Sydney-Hobart race.
So why is "Etihad Stadium" unacceptable to the ABC as the name of a stadium but perfectly OK as the name of a boat?
I agree that the ABC should remain free of advertising. But saying a brand name on air isn't advertising if they didn't pay you to say it!
It's time the ABC gave up this bloody-minded charade. The brand name "policy" is unworkable, hypocritical and makes absolutely no sense at all.