Just like Brexit, the Hundred is back in the news today, dividing with a new scandal. I honestly don't have a view on the ECB's golden child. I think money would be better spent improving the Blast, but I won't be judging fully until the competition actually gets going. However, the ECB's re-birth of The Hundred's marketing strategy, ahead of it's 2021 launch, have raised some eyebrows.
The tournament is in the news as of some player transfers following the updated ECB central contracts. If you've managed to develop an emotional attachment to one of the teams, you can read on these movements in this Matt Roller piece. However, I'm more interested in the resurrection of The Hundred's PR campaign.
I feel for the media guys working for the new competition, because of how many cricket fans opposed the competition from it's announcement. Along with the Church and the Monarchy, cricket is afraid of change. I prefer test cricket, I find it better to watch, but t20 cricket still requires skills and should not be looked down on.
Back to the point. The PR campaign for The Hundred is back, with some peculiar Tweets yesterday and an email this morning.
Said email, came with the subject: "So 2020... Samuel, how's that working out for you?". We all know 2020 has been an awful year. People have lost loved ones, livelihoods, enjoyment, and hope. Immediately, the email struck me as an odd tone. 2020 is not working out for anyone, and while the obvious message throughout the email, as they talk about how "tough" this year has been, is to try and relate to the situation, it come across poorly. 2020 has been awful, and emphasising with people is good, but the attitude reflected in "that" is not appropriate, as if the reader is somehow at fault, or stupid for not expecting the Covid crisis would ruin lives.
And, now, as if we were talking about the lunatic running the US-onto the Tweets.
It was April 30th when @thehundred account tweeted. And the return recently was also odd. First, a thread repeating the message of the email, talking about the hope for a better 2021. Then, a couple of tweets looking at the general animosity toward The Hundred. These were unusual, and go away from the traditional social media method of saying your lines and leaving the replies, keeping a formal tone and avoiding interaction with negative responses.
I believe the ECB social media team are aiming for, perhaps the Trump strategy, of doing something different on Twitter, to gain traction and attention. If this is their strategy, then it is working. I've seen tweets about the tweets, and now I'm writing about the tweets! Their controversy is generating attention, but does this actually help?
Whatever the overall plan of the ECB is, the ultimate aim of The Hundred is to increase the number of cricket fans. Whether a normal, or abnormal social media strategy is beneficial to this is a minor issue, but whatever their short-term tactics for engagement, the ECB must keep on top of the overall aim-getting new cricket fans. If they fail in this regard, it will only prove the doubters right.