By Patrick Avenell
With the sun setting over the Sydney Football Stadium on Tuesday (Mar 3), the Sydney Roosters rugby league team goes through the drills that coach Brad Fittler hopes will propel them to the top this season. On the sideline, just out of the race, the club’s major sponsor, Samsung, is entertaining business partners, the media and young fans at an intimate invite-only event.
And though the Roosters looked patchy at times, the event was definitely a big thrill for the youngsters — and some of the bigger kids — that had made the trek to Moore Park. Among those that came from work, rather than school, were representatives of Bing Lee and The Good Guys, two of Samsung’s largest retail partners.
Big Willie and a little willie share quality time at a Samsung
meet ‘n’ greet event at the Sydney Football Stadium
Currently out of action after a knee reconstruction, ubiquitous Roosters forward Willie Mason kicked off the event with Q & A session on the sideline. He speech was surprisingly eloquent considering the bad press he receives and he was clearly a very popular player with the youngsters.
He fielded questions about training techniques, when he’ll return, and whether he still gets back to his home Toronto (he used to a lot, but the locals won’t let him be anymore).
Big Willie soon became distracted by the sausage sizzle, and with coach Fittler struggling to retain players’ concentration in the midst of such growing revelry, training was abandoned and the players joined the assembled throng for a barbeque.
Although the lifestyle of a professional footballer is lauded as a privilege, it must become tedious to attend corporate events for the benefit of sponsors. Considering this, credit must go to the players for being so enthusiastic, or at least so convincingly feigning it, because they seemed genuinely interested in mingling with Samsung’s guests.
After an hour of eating, drinking and signature collecting, a minute’s worth of torrential rain signaled the end of the event. The players looked relieved to be able to get away, the guests looked happy having met their heroes and Samsung’s PR team emerged the most satisfied. They’d managed to stage a successful event for their clients and the media, and they’d done it despite barely spending a cent.
Samsung hadn’t placed any products on display, and the hard sell wasn’t in force; this was more about maintaining a strong relationship through a friendly get-together, in an environment not often visited by Joe Everyman.
In the past, Samsung has staged lavish parties and commissioned celebrities to entertain. Last night proved that with the resources in place, the expenditure is nowhere as important as the atmosphere.