Steve Moran

Please TAB, call time on those ads

A recent study has linked the increase in road rage incidents with the surge in inane, cringe-worthy radio advertisements promoting the TAB.

Live ad reads from otherwise sensible and generally conservative broadcasters have also been identified as part of the problem. 

So pernicious is the trend that the study has concluded they present a bigger threat than the fatuous, and sometimes offensive, offerings from our corporate bookmaking friends (well, acquaintances at best). 

This, of course, is not the case but I’d hardly be surprised if it were true. At the very least, these auditory assaults have driven me to distraction and despair…and very nearly off the road as I was bombarded three times in the space of three minutes the other day. 

First, one of those grating ramblings from the TAB bobbed up. I can’t remember if it was the one about sharing a bowl of chips – you know the one which effectively says you’re never going to buy a racehorse –  which comes across as odd to say the least in a racing-betting ad.

Or it could have been something about ordering from a Chinese restaurant menu or not liking surprises or overcoming “Mondayitis” and “hump day” via the unbridled anticipation of Saturday’s nominations and final fields being released. Each is as nonsensical, galling, poorly written and downright off-putting as the other. 

I don’t want to be one of those kinds of people. 

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love Tabcorp. Everyone should bet with the TAB if, for no other reason than to protect the financial future of the industry (and I’m, casually, indirectly employed by them – well at least I was up until now). 

But those silly ads have got to go. 

Then it was either Gerard Whateley or Anthony Hudson warbling on about a woman watering her pot plants with her Nylex hose, shortly before they crossed to their “friends” at Bet365 for a cricket preview. No, boys – they are your sponsors and they provide nothing more than odds.

Broadcasters have, of course, done this since Marconi launched the first transatlantic radio signal in 1901.

I can still hear Bill Collins, he of race broadcasting not movie review fame (although there was one notorious case of mistaken identity) advertising Wee Willem cigars… Cos he smoked. I just can’t picture Whateley or Hudson installing their automated sprinkler systems. 

Worse still, we’ve had Whateley’s ads for McDonald’s coffee. In fairness, they were well scripted and exceptionally delivered by the Bruce McAvaney heir but I’ll bet Gerard would be a decaf, soy latte kind of guy – which just ain’t coffee, is it? And I’d rather he be my authority on all matters sport than selling his soul to Ronald. 

Then we endure the cross to Bet365, apparently the world’s favourite on-line sports betting company – not mine, but certainly that of co-founder Denise Coates, who reportedly paid herself a lazy $617 million last year (2000 times more than Briain’s PM Boris Johnson). She’s Britain’s best paid (joint) chief executive and apparently the highestpaid woman in the world. 

The English-owned Bet365 is apparently Australia’s secondmost popular bookmaker, behind the Irishowned Sportsbet. Ahead of the TAB. That’s a worry, my friends, given their relative contributions to the industry are all the more reason why the TAB needs to work a little harder on their advertising copy and promotions. Perhaps a cut in takeout rates from exotic pools would be a good starting point.

Then we hear from David Davutovic representing Bet365 on the radio. I could have sworn he was the football writer from the Herald Sun. I like my (round) football.

Now that’s disconcerting, and damns more the media than corporate bookmakers, that he joins a long list of ex-journos who have seen careers with betting organisations as more rewarding (presumably financial) than their highprofile media roles. 

Yes, first world problems and perhaps I’m taking this (and myself) a little too seriously. 

So, let’s go back to the story of William Henry Collins (1928 – 1997) who remains Australia’s greatest racecaller and arguably the most talented person to appear on the electronic media in this country – from singing, dancing and hosting to sports broadcasting. 

Did you know, in the first year of the Logies (1959), he won the outstanding performance award for his appearances on Sunnyside Up, HSV-7?

But back to that case of mistaken identity. It was 1993, and 3AW’s Ross and Dean were on holiday and were replaced on breakfast by Greg Evans and Sam Newman.  

With the Academy Award having been announced, they asked their producer to call Bill Collins.  

“Now we have on the line the one and only Bill Collins,” Evans announced. Not quite the one and only as it turned out.

“Well a very good morning to you too,” was racing Bill’s deadpan reply as he happily let them hang themselves for about 90 seconds before Newman twigged.

“I’ve got a question about the Oscars, Bill. Did you agree with the best picture award for the Unforgiven,” Newman said.

“I don’t know, I’ve never seen the Unforgiven,” Collins replied. 

“That surprises me,” said Newman before he and Evans began laughing heartily as Newman then announced:We are talking to Bill Collins, the greatest racecaller of all time, in the history of the world and all other places.”

Collins didn’t then add much to the television tonight segment as he declared he’d only be watching the News and Dad’s Army and that “the rest of it is pretty much rubbish as far as I’m concerned”.