NIC NAITANUI is a viewed as jester, while Joel Selwood is considered a sage. Trent Cotchin fits as an everyman, Nat Fyfe a hero and Jeremy Cameron a creator.

AFL stars don't just end up on billboards, pop-up online ads or TV commercials, with a thorough process being undertaken before a company commits to associating their brand with a specific player.

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They are fitted by personality, road-tested across demographics and ranked on their profile.

This is the inside story on how the marketing process of the best players actually works, using The Gemba Group's 'archetypes' matching athletes with brands across the world.

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Gemba is a leading marketing and insights firm in the sports and entertainment industry, and completes surveys of more than 650 people monthly.

From that, it develops its asset study, which shows the awareness (the level of reach an asset has across a market) and likability (the percentage of people who follow or are interested in a particular asset) of sports stars. The results also provide insights into the top players' archetypes, which are a set of 'personality types' designed to easily match up with commercial opportunities.

"It's not necessarily about their actual personality, but how people perceive them. That's the important part from a marketing perspective," said Haydn Northover, Gemba's insights manager.

"It's not to say they are someone who is a ruler or a sage, but they come across that way."

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Gemba has supplied to AFL.com.au a list of 25 of the most marketable AFL players, including their rolling dominant and shadow archetypes, plus the qualities associated with each archetype.

West Coast star Naitnaui being assorted as a 'jester', for instance, fits with the perception of the affable ruckman. The jester, according to Gemba, 'is driven to live in the moment and enjoy themselves'. Jesters 'challenge cultural norms' and often with a sense of humour.

Cotchin, the two-time Richmond premiership captain, fits the 'everyman' mould, which carries the qualities of humble, positive, caring, realistic and down to earth. 'The core value of the everyman is everyone matters just as they are,' Gemba says.

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"We talk to over 650 people a month and we ask each of those people whether or not they are aware of that particular person and whether or not they like them, and different degrees of likability," Northover said describing how the character profiles are decided.

"Those people who say they're aware of them and like them – we ask 'What attributes do you actually see in this person?' And from those attributes it might be caring, or honest, or trustworthy, and then behind there's an algorithm where if you're seen predominantly as humourous, then you go into your dominant archetype which will be as a jester. If you're predominantly seen as intelligent, then you'll be seen as the sage."

Adelaide skipper Rory Sloane, Carlton gun Patrick Cripps, Scott Pendlebury and Geelong champions Gary Ablett jnr and Patrick Dangerfield are all classified as sages who are trusted 'to advise and guide along the path to knowledge'.

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There are a number of other archetypes which have been applied to AFL stars.

The 'innocent' (wholesome, pure, free to be themselves), the 'explorer' (courageous, bold, independent), the 'magician' (inspiring, clever, gifted and blessed with mysterious power), the 'creator' (innovative, rebellious, imagine the unthinkable) and the 'ruler' (leader, in control, laying down the law).

There are also the 'caregiver', who is down to earth and trustworthy, the 'lover', considered to be confident, glamorous and joyful, and the 'hero', competitive, inspiring and confident. Nike, as a leading brand, positions itself within the ‘hero’ category.

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The 'outlaw' is another archetype, with these people viewed as brave, rebellious and ‘challenging the status quo'.

Richmond superstar Dustin Martin is categorised as one of these. Since his monster 2017 Brownlow Medal, Norm Smith Medal and premiership season, Martin has become footy's hottest commodity.

He is completely distinguishable in his look and persona - he is the biggest name with the lowest media stamp - and has become the face of Bonds. Currently, Martin is modelling luxury Kennedy Watches on AFL.com.au's platforms.

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Northover said the archetypes act as a conduit between brands and players.

"Brands that use this might have a list of 20 ambassadors on their books. The first port of call will be the general awareness and likability component. You can have someone who's a jester and you want a jester, but if no one knows them, then they're clearly not the person for that. But by doing this you can find three who best align to the brand strategy," he said.

"Sometimes the archetypes are probably pretty obvious or intuitive, but sometimes you do need to put some science behind it to then lend some credibility or help that decision making."

25 OF THE MOST MARKETABLE AFL PLAYERS
 

DOMINANT ARCHETYPE

SHADOW ARCHETYPE

Rory Sloane (Adel)

Sage

Hero

Taylor Walker (Adel)

Caregiver

Outlaw

Lachie Neale (Bris)

Hero

Ruler

Patrick Cripps (Carl)

Sage

Hero

Eddie Betts (Carl)

Creator

Jester

Scott Pendlebury (Coll)

Sage

Ruler

Dyson Heppell (Ess)

Hero

Innocent

Nathan Fyfe (Frem)

Hero

Sage

Gary Ablett jnr (Geel)

Sage

Hero

Patrick Dangerfield (Geel)

Sage

Hero

Joel Selwood (Geel)

Sage

Ruler

Jeremy Cameron (GWS)

Creator

Outlaw

Stephen Coniglio (GWS)

Magician

Sage

Josh Kelly (GWS)

Hero

Ruler

Tom Mitchell (Haw)

Everyman

Sage

Jaeger O'Meara (Haw)

Ruler

Hero

Max Gawn (Melb)

Everyman

Jester

Clayton Oliver (Melb)

Magician

Hero

Travis Boak (Port)

Hero

Everyman

Trent Cotchin (Rich)

Everyman

Caregiver

Dustin Martin (Rich)

Outlaw

Explorer

Lance Franklin (Syd)

Lover

Sage

Marcus Bontempelli (WB)

Innocent

Magician

Nic Naitanui (WC)

Jester

Innocent

Josh Kennedy (WC)

Innocent

Hero