To begin with selling archery to the mainstream I want to start with a tactic that is the most obvious. That is the cult and fantasy genre from TV and film. These amazing adventures of heroes and villains fighting each other for their own cause with bows and arrows inspired my love of archery before the Olympic Games. Many other people will feel the same about archery in this way. I should know because I used to be a cult fanboy.
These TV shows that celebrate archery are not strictly science fiction and fantasy shows, but historical adventures, costume dramas, sports films, etc. The impact of popular movies and TV shows can inspire generations of children and countless fans to take up something that they sell. Thanks to some blockbusters some businesses are riding high and their products are by association doing well. Wallace and Gromit saved a cheese making company from going bust, James Cameron’s Titanic film inspired millions of people to take up cruises with themed travels, Doctor Who inspired me to embrace my inner geek and develop many talents that can make me unique.
Archery came from TV shows and films like Robin Hood, Lord of the Rings, The Hunger Games, Arrow, The Avengers and Harry Potter. When I could afford my own merchandising I went to conventions to meet the people who made these shows. It was great fun seeing all these people in costumed characters as I walked up to the stands to enjoy the entertainment. But there was one thing missing that may have enabled me to take up archery earlier in life.
Of all the events hosted at these conventions they didn’t offer any sports try outs. As a fanboy I could have learnt some of the sports that have been shown by the skills of my TV heroes. As well as archery I was also keen on learning the martial arts used by the Power Rangers. I was also interested in fencing, which I saw in plenty of sword fighting epics like King Arthur and the Musketeers. And yet none of these sports were available in try out sessions at this places or even advertised by sporting companies.
Thanks to these shows and films archery has had a boost in participation with many people joining clubs across the country. The appearance of archery in Game of Thrones has given archery a sexier image and has the potential to increase the sales of bows and arrows. One club in Glasgow has seen membership rocket in recent years thanks to the hit TV show. Archery GB reports that the number of under 21s competitors in their clubs has gone from 6500 in 2012 to 10’000 in 2016.
In my research for my campaign I have found growth in archery combined with the impact of London 2012 in Britain to be a quiet success story. In 2012, Archery GB’s membership was at 35’000, and now it is around 46’000. Those who were inspired to be like Katniss Everdeen and Robin Hood are a market that the archery industry needs to capitalize in a more active way. Science fiction fandom is a big business and has millions of potential customers. I reckon that it could stimulate growth in the archery business by up to 40%. I have a friend who is always keen to hear about my archery adventures and he is one of the stars of sci-fi fandom.
By the way it’s often said that there is no money in archery. Well I can confirm that is not strictly true. Some minority sports are profitable but they are not a mega success on the scale of a multi-billion dollar industry. In 2005 the Archery Trade Association surveyed the amount of revenue in the archery industry of America. They found that it is worth $500 million. Now include the rest of the world and the increase in archery in popular culture it must be at least 1.5 – 3 billion dollars.
To get into the cult fandom market archery needs to exhibit itself at these conventions and science fiction stores. The next big TV or film franchise is likely to create another surge in interest in archery. So let’s start with some creative suggestions for marketing.
- TV show experiences. These are holiday packages for people to go out and live the adventures of their idols. Some of these include archery and I think bow makers can capitalise on this by sponsoring and selling their equipment through these packages. Say if Hoyt were to promote a Game of Thrones weekend with their bows. If they associated themselves with then they are going to want to own a Hoyt bow afterwards and join a club.
- Try out sessions at conventions. Some conventions sell replica weapons like Star Wars light sabres, Game of Thrones crossbows, Trojan daggers and Avengers shields. If you can sell that kind of merchandise then you can also promote archery by showing off their sports target equivalents. This will lead the fans to try out archery as a sport and eventually lead them to joining clubs and buying equipment.
- Launch a sales package of ‘TV and Film inspired sports’. The way people are motivated to try out these sports that feature in their favourite shows is to attract them to every type of sport there is. Most of these fans don’t get involved in physical activities and some of them often like to try new types of exercise. Many of them are couch junkies who like to sit in binge watching their favourite shows but don’t have enough opportunities to try out the sports themselves. I have friends who want to try archery and fencing inspired by watching it on TV. If we introduce a stand that directs them to the right sports then we can increase participation in archery directly from the conventions.
This is the first of many ways in which to sell archery. This idea of selling it through the cult fandom community will be like franchising archery. You don’t sell archery just by the bows and arrows used by Olympians because these TV fans don’t get to watch that often enough. You get people to try by encouraging them to engage in the play like nature of their TV shows and get them to experience the real thing.