There were no Porsche-driving, pony-tailed advertising execs throwing names up round a boardroom table at a glitzy north Queensland island resort location, or business negotiations over rounds of Tequila Sunrises and Singapore Slings, or whatever they drank back in the days of Knight Rider and MC Hammer.

Securing the rock goddess actually came about via much simpler channels: someone knew someone, who knew someone else. It was so … rugby league.

As historians David Middleton and Ian Heads wrote in their amazing 2008 book A Centenary Of Rugby League, “the coup came about through a friendship between Nicki Braithwaite, the personal assistant of then NSWRL general Manager John Quayle, and Roger Davies, the Australian manager of Turner. Davies was a league fan and was receptive to the NSWRL’s approach.”

An interesting factoid about the first “Tina” promo campaign of 1989 - which was basically her 1987 song What You Get Is What You See played to a backdrop of video footage of Winfield Cup players hamming it up at training - was that Tina’s on-camera contribution to the clip was filmed in London.

According to Middleton and Heads, “Under a veil of secrecy, leading players Cliff Lyons and Gavin Miller, who were spending the off-season with Leeds and Hull KR respectively, were ushered to the British capital alongside Turner.” Aussie match footage and shots of players sweating during pre-season training were edited in later.

(Photo at top by TONY RANZE/AFP/Getty Images)

The NSWRL aired the slick advert at its season launch on March 13, 1989. Almost needless to say, it was a smash hit with the entire rugby league world. And according to a CNN news story by Australian-based reporter John Raedler from 1993 which Inside Sport recently dug-up from YouTube, the promo well and truly impressed those who mattered.

“Since the Tina Turner commercial started back in 1989, attendance at rugby league games has more than doubled,” Raedler relays in the video, while walking across the five-season-old Sydney Football Stadium playing surface. “Television ratings have soared, and females have embraced the game in large numbers.”

Towards the end of Tina mania, Raedler sat down with advertising executive Jim Walpole of Hertz Walpole, the league’s advertising agency. The game’s suits weren’t confident that such an ambitious mission of securing Tina’s services would ever come off, but they let Jim have a crack nonetheless.

“I said, ‘We’ve got to get Tina Turner to do this,” Walpole told CNN back in 1993. “I think everybody there thought, ‘Well, this isn’t going to happen anyway; Jim’s a bit crazy and he gets these odd ideas every now and again.’

“I thought it would work … I had no idea it would work as well as it did. I could say we rationalised all this before it happened, that we knew exactly what it would do to people’s emotions, but it just seemed to fit for some reason. There was nothing scientific about it at all. We didn’t research it … ”

The game’s officials did eventually warm to Tina’s powers as rugby league’s Pied Piper. As Middleton and Heads wrote, the head of the game during that time, Ken Arthurson, years later paid tribute to Turner’s irresistible drawing power: “She was a great and gracious lady for us, and the game will never forget her.”