The Ashes: who is more 'feral'? The Aussies or the Brits?

The Ashes: who is more 'feral'? The Aussies or the Brits?
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Tensions are running high on both sides of the world with the start of the critical second test series. With the glut of Brits working in our industry  the sledging starts way in advance. It can get pretty brutal in the corridors of media land but this year it has been more than matched on and off the field, kicked off by ex-England cricket captain David Gower’s remarks that Australian fans were “feral” with “no culture” and magnified by today’s allegations that England are threatening to boycott Brisbane!

At Exponential, our immediate thought on reading Mr Gower’s commentary was “that’s not cricket sir!”, but our inner data-loving voice whispered – what if it’s true? What if the Brits are all (albeit whining) private-school educated, trousered posh boys whilst us Aussie’s are short-tempered pie-eating, singlet-wearing barbarians? We had no choice but to dive into our proprietary eX Advertising Intelligence Platform, which tracks actual online behavior across one of the world’s largest digital media platforms to find out for ourselves (but don’t tell our Chief Revenue Officer – we are meant to use it for clients, not to settle office bets).

We looked at the online behavior of 74,000 Australian cricket fans and 147,000 English fans in September 2013 and, as usual, our digging threw up a number of confirmations but also a whole lot of surprises. If you’ve been lucky enough to score tickets to any of the matches, our findings may make you look at the person sitting next to you in a different light (and possibly get you humming the theme tune to The Little Mermaid to them; yes really – read on).

Let’s start with the standard demographics of the two supporter groups. Both have the strong expected index for males 25-39 but that’s where the similarity ends.

  • UK supporters are 20 times more likely to be married (vs. 8 x in Australia); in fact Aussies are 12 times more likely to be entirely single than their British counterparts.
  • Both nationalities are more likely than the average online users to have children but UK fans lead the way being 12 times (vs. 8x). Does being more likely to be married with kids indicate that UK fans are a wealthier, more refined bunch (and a more attractive audience for advertisers)?
  • Looking at Household Income can be a little misleading due to Australia’s higher salaries, but if we did look at total household income we would find Australians are 8 times more likely to bring in over $250k per annum whilst the Brits are 12 times more likely to bring in over $125kper annum. But seeing what they are researching and spending their money on can tell a broader story.

Australian cricket supporters show an incredibly strong interest in small businesses with Small Business Forms (670 x), Small Business Loans (540 x) and Small Business Planning (420 x) all being the top 3 interests in the Business and Finance category. UK cricket supporters are looking at, Banking (41 x), Investments (36 x) and Stocks (31 x), suggesting a more conservative and ‘grown up’ profile. Given the income data this doesn’t necessarily mean the Brit fans are more affluent; it could point to a more maverick streak in Australians who have broken away from large corporations and decided to be their own boss. Perhaps this entrepreneurial spirit contributes to the occasional lapse in respect for authority that we sometimes see in the grandstands?

Another way to determine an audience is to look at what they are looking to buy online. UK cricket supporters are buying Children’s Clothing (119 x), Back to School items (57 x) and Home & Garden Products (25 x) whilst Australian cricket supporters are buying Sports & Outdoor Equipment (169 x), Musical Instruments (159 x) and Luggage & Bags (155 x). UK supporters are clearly family men, whereas the ‘singleness’ of the Australians are coming through with what they are buying or researching online.

When it comes to Health, the English have been researching Vision (13 x), High Blood Pressure (11 x) and Headaches (8 x) online. This would seem to confirm the older stuffier stereotype (and at least two of those ailments would have been exacerbated by the result of the first Test!). Australians, however, are looking at Fitness & Weight Loss (192 x) and Cholesterol (43 x) suggesting that the pie-eating beer drinking image just might have an element of truth to it after all.

Celebrity watching puts Sachin Tendulkar on top for both Australians (900 x!!) and the English (665 x!!), way ahead of any other sports person, actor, musician or model. This could be due to his recent resignation announcement. After Sachin, however, the differences kick in. The English are more interested in Maria Sharapova (303 x), Lionel Messi (64 x) and Gary Barlow (16 x). We had to laugh at the Gary Barlow (ex-Take That, current UK X-Factor judge) and are using it to taunt the Brits in the office. Australian’s are more interested in Rafael Nadal (368 x), Shahrukh Kahn (221 x) and Calvin Harris (45 x).

And here’s where it gets interesting. Shahrukh Kahn is one of the biggest Bollywood superstars around. This caught our attention so we dug a little deeper into the data and found the Indian connection to be a strong one in Australia. ‘Indian’. Food (Indian dining 136x), celebrities (Shahrukh Khan – 221x), and movie genres (Bollywood movies – 123x) all rank within the top 15 Arts & Entertainment interests across everything for Aussies. This suggests that Australian cricket has a large amount of Australians with Indian heritage barracking for them in The Ashes and interesting insight for granular audience profiling.

Bollywood movies themselves though didn’t make the cut when it came to movie preferences. The most popular movies for Aussies were Jurassic Park (110 x), James Bond (95 x) and World War Z (76 x); all good solid bloke films. For the English supporters you may be surprised to find that the favourites were The Croods (215 x), Cinderella (201 x) and The Little Mermaid (145 x). Whilst presumably researching for their children, solid sledging material and a pun waiting to happen in regards to Cinderella not going to, catching or batting the ‘ball’.

Like all good stereotypes our deep dive into cricket fans suggests that this one does have origins in the truth but our insight suggests that as always, people are a lot more complex and nuanced, than first glances at either real people or crude data segmentation might suggest.

Thankfully, the result of the Ashes is easier to predict. They shall be OURS.

Alice Donaldson, insights manger, APAC and South Africa, Exponential 

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