Rugby World Cup – What does it mean for brands?

On the eve of the Rugby World Cup, how can brands engage sporting fans?

By Dexter Tate | August 14th, 2015


In the UK we are fortunate to play host to some of the world’s greatest sporting events and leagues and it can be easy to become complacent as a sport fan as to just how lucky we are.

The UK is home to the Premier League, Wimbledon, The Open Championships and enjoyed huge success around the 2012 Olympic Games so we can be forgiven for somewhat casting a shadow over the 1991 Rugby World Cup which was the last truly global sporting event we had hosted with some degree of success.

On the eve of the 2015 Rugby World Cup we think it’s time to celebrate one of the largest sporting competitions on the planet coming to our shores. So far fans and the media could be guilty of a general feeling of indifference or apathy towards the World Cup because we’ve done it all before – no big deal – but brands here in the UK should not be fooled and see this as a huge opportunity.

With over 2.45 million tickets sold, this World Cup has already cemented its place as the most supported in history. In fact, according to a recent TGI survey there are 10.1 million adult fans of rugby in the UK, with the majority of these fans labelled as ABC1 – a highly appealing and typically expensive demographic for brands to communicate with.

So with just under 50 days until kick-off, there is still time for brands to get involved and develop ways to engage with what will undoubtable be the biggest and most talked about sporting event of the year.

The Official Sponsors have already started their campaigns – Coca Cola are working with World Cup Winners Jason Robinson and Natasha Hunt to launch their biggest ever rugby promotion to encourage participation, while Land Rover are emphasising their grassroots involvement and flair for the dramatic through ambassador led video content and high impact stunts.

Additionally, Emirates Airlines are recruiting for official flag bearers and looking to fuel social engagement, while Heineken have recently announced that they are pushing half of their annual marketing budget into the six week event, creating a global campaign featuring Jonah Lomu and John Smit, and launching a Heineken Rugby Studio at Twickenham to produce preview and review shows featuring Will Greenwood.

Home nation sponsors arguably need to work harder to cement their association when the games kick off as, due to tournament rules, all shirts that the players run out onto the pitch wearing must be clean of sponsor branding. This has big implications for those brands who have spent big budgets to secure front of shirt sponsorships.

O2, arguably one of England’s most successful rugby sponsors of the last twenty years, will be one such brand whose logo will be wiped from the front of beloved England shirt it usually adorns when the players run out on 18 September.

However, so ingrained is O2’s longstanding association with England Rugby that the tangible and intangible benefits will continue, even throughout enforced black-out periods. Case and point – despite a lack of visual exposure on the 15 England shirts on the pitch, O2 will continue to reap the rewards through branding that will be plastered around the stadiums in the form of thousands of England fans wearing O2 branded replica kits across England.

The brands #Weartherose campaign has been a clever way for the brand to not only tap into the emotional passion of the fans to get behind their team but also ensure that 80,000 fans at Twickenham will be wearing their branded replica shirts. Dove and BMW are more England team sponsors who have been building their rugby fanbase and will continue to do so over the next eight weeks.

It is that longevity of association which will help brands like O2 develop the most genuine credibility and authenticity and not lose out to tournament sponsors with bigger wallets.

Official sponsors of AVIVA Premiership Rugby will also have opportunities to communicate to fans and potentially capitalise on a wealth of new fans of the game. Using their earned credibility through existing Premiership assets – club player imagery and content – with an intelligent and planned approach can reap great rewards throughout key moments of the tournament.

For brands not already involved in rugby, hope is not lost. As the 2014 FIFA World Cup proved, brands can make an impact without securing any official rights, but reaction time is key.

“There is always a big spike in conversation and engagement when major events like the World Cup come around”, says Misha Sher, Head of EMEA at MediaCom Sport.

“The most successful brands plan their content strategy well in advance, often anticipating the big moments to put themselves at the heart of the conversation.”

With so little time before the tournament begins, official rights will be difficult to secure, but intelligent strategic planning and creative execution can result in memorable impact, sometimes better than the sponsors themselves.

Last year MediaCom Sport worked with Subway to develop their football campaign featuring Pele and Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge. Despite not being an official sponsor, through tactical media placements and an ongoing association with the Brazilian football legend, Subway were the most effective brand to increase their awareness, usurping the official sponsors such as competitors McDonald’s, MasterCard, and Samsung.

London 2012 was a success because is engaged with every single Briton in some way, and brands would be foolish not to expect similar results next month when one of the world’s truly great sporting events kicks off – as World Rugby say  themselves, this tournament really will be “Too Big To Miss”.

SnapKit: It's not too little, but is it too late? How Thinking About Disability Makes Your Content Better A few weeks ago, blind and visually impaired people on Facebook kept coming across the words AWESOME TEXT STATUS in their newsfeed. If their friends used the coloured background for a status update, it couldn’t be deciphered by screen readers. The war for attention rages on, but have marketers forgotten what they’re fighting for? In this age of digital distraction, our ability to gain attention has been dramatically compromised. But is ‘branded content’ our saviour? Or our own worst enemy. Lucozade Zero x Love Island: Fancy It? Lucozade are relaunching their zero sugar offering this summer with a fresh, fun Partnership that is set to encourage customers to forego compromising quality taste for zero sugar. How Podcasts Make a Difference What have a journalist, an NHS Doctor and a crime story got in common? How to future proof your youth marketing strategy… More and more nowadays we need to tap in to the minds of the youth generation – how they think, how they behave, and what they believe in CAPTURE THE JOURNEY WITH NIKON AND SECRET ESCAPES How to amplify brand events via social media Social media is the fastest way to directly engage with your audience. This puts events among your biggest opportunities as a brand. Start seizing them. Apples, Apples everywhere, but at what cost? The 5 key themes of Social Media Week London 2017 Social Media Week held over 50 sessions in London this September, featuring talks from the likes of Buzzfeed, Google, Facebook, Nat Geo and MediaCom’s very own Sue Unerman. Bring the noise In a world of mobile and second screening, much of our content consumption is done in silence, especially on social. But Facebook are hoping to change that. We asked, will sound-on video, fall on deaf ears? Want to land that sponsor? Be in the solutions business Finding Your Thing and Fuelling Your Passion AR you READY? It all started with a first date! Is content still king in the world of SEO? It’s safe to assume everyone is familiar with the phrase “Content is King”, but with Google’s ever changing algorithm and a post Penguin world, is this still true? It’s a match! What online dating can teach brands about agency value The stigma of dating apps has somewhat dissipated in the last few years – paving the way for more daters, more user profiles, more “hey’s”… more “hi there’s”… less luck. Why women’s sport can deliver big results for brands While it may not offer the scale of many male sports, investing in women’s sport can offer an opportunity for brands to engage with people in more innovative and emotional ways… DIET COKE BREAK: INNOVATING IN INFLUENCER MARKETING DIET COKE LAUNCHES THE DIET COKE BREAK – THEIR FIRST INFLUENCER PARTNERSHIP TO CREATE A SERIES OF FUN, INTERESTING AND USEFUL BRANDED VIDEOS Who still cares about Virtual Reality? Here’s why brands should… The dust around VR has settled since the beginning of the year. What happened to the hype technology that was about to change the world? #Winning with Influencer Marketing We need ad funded programming to work JUST BEFORE CHRISTMAS THE FOUR-PART CELEBRITY CYCLING SERIES, TOUR DE CELEB, CAME TO AN END. SMASHING C5’S TARGET RATINGS FOR ABC1S AND 16-34S WAS A GREAT RESULT. THIS WAS, AFTER ALL, AN AFP. "We’re not going to get a chance to get people to remember much about us" I have to admit that the below isn’t my theory. Instead it’s based on a compelling article I read by J Walker Smith, the executive chairman of Kantar Futures. The Social Media Trends to look out for in 2017 Year on year, social platforms evolve at an accelerated rate to suit business and consumer needs. 2016 showcased this well with the likes of Vine and Meerkat winding down, while Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat boomed. Are eSports Taking Centre Stage? eSports by nature is a hugely fragmented marketplace comprising of publishers, games, events, leagues and teams which each come with their own opportunities TOUR DE CELEB: RIDING HIGH WITH SKODA ON CHANNEL 5 BUILDING ON SKODA'S LONG STANDING ASSOCIATION WITH CYCLING, MEDIACOM BEYOND ADVERTISING LEVERAGED A UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY WITH STV PRODUCTIONS AND CHANNEL 5 TO PRODUCE AN ORIGINAL TELEVISION SHOW COMBINING THE INTENSE RIGOUR OF PROFESSIONAL CYCLING WITH AN ENTERTAINING NARRATIVE AND A MONUMENTAL CHALLENGE FOR OUR WILLING PARTICIPANTS MEDIACOM & CLOUDY BAY LAUNCH SECOND INSTALMENT OF SECRET SESSIONS EMOTIONAL TRUMPS RATIONAL Paving the Cow-path of Social Purpose Could contributing to a greater good be a shortcut to a success for brands? MediaCom and Cloudy Bay launch Secret Sessions Don’t worship false idols (and such other religious references) What makes a successful online marketing campaign? Pay attention, get attention - Part 2 WHEN IT COMES TO CRAFTING EFFECTIVE CONTENT, THERE IS NO ONE SIZE FITS ALL SOLUTION. WHAT MIGHT SHINE ON ONE PLATFORM MAY GET LOST ON ANOTHER. IF YOU WANT WIN BIG, IT’S TIME TO SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF. Pay attention, get attention IN A WORLD WHERE ATTENTION SHIFTS QUICKLY, WE HAVE TO GET CREATIVE TO CAPTURE IT AND TURN IT TOWARDS OUR BRANDS. BUT A GREAT IDEA CAN SINK OR SWIM BY ITS DELIVERY; THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAIL. 5 Cameras, 4 artists, 1 new Volkswagen Up! Get behind the wheel for‪ #‎Li5tenup‬! All the sessions from The Salon in Austin are now live! The Salon in Austin Video Sessions MediaCom & Westpac launch #UnstoppableSquad to inspire millennials to be unstoppable Social led campaign to showcase inspirational Aussies living unstoppable lives The Salon Revisited: The Key Learning's We've Taken Away With Us From Our SXSW Fringe Event WE’VE WRAPPED THE SALON FOR ANOTHER YEAR AND HAVE PUT TOGETHER A PIECE THAT REVEALS THE HIGHLIGHT MOMENTS & KEY INSIGHTS FROM OUR FUTURE FACING SUMMIT ‘HELLO TOMORROW’ IN AUSTIN, TEXAS, WATCH THE HIGHLIGHTS FROM AUSTIN TO SEE HOW WE CAN HELP SHAPE YOUR BRAND’S CONTENT STRATEGY….NOW WE’LL START TO PLAN NEXT YEAR! MediaCom Beyond Advertising LA & Tempur-Pedic ask couples to recall their first time The innuendo filled comedic campaign uncovers the memorable details The Salon 2016 Day Two Highlights with Tumblr, Not Impossible, Pavegen and More! Day 2 at The Salon saw us play host to pioneers who are changing the world. We were humbled, moved and inspired by Mick Ebeling, Laurence Kemball-Cook and Giles Rhys Jones amongst others, followed by an exclusive performance from JP Cooper in the yard. The Salon 2016 day one highlights with Yahoo!, Spotify and more HERE ARE ALL THE BEST MOMENTS FROM DAY ONE AT THE SALON. WE HAVE, AMONGST OTHERS, RICH FRANKEL OF SPOTIFY, TWITTER'S KUNUR PATEL AND BEN DEITZ OF VICE DISCUSSING WHAT TOMORROW WILL BRING. THE ONLY THING WE DON'T HAVE, APPARENTLY, IS SOCKS... MediaCom & capture milestone moments for first time renters through new ‘Beg, Blag, Borrow’ campaign MediaCom & celebrates a rite of passage of young Australian adults via a digitally led campaign The Salon returns to SXSW to say ‘Hello Tomorrow’ MediaCom & SunWater Queensland partner to create a life saving campaign directed at Aussie teenagers THE ARMY: FOUND YOUR DREAM JOB YET? British Army and Time Inc join forces to explore opportunities available for women MediaCom Beyond Advertising's Amy Roebuck recognised in M&M Global's 'Meet the Millennials' Having overseen several brilliant projects in 2015, Amy starts 2016 by being recognised as one of the brightest young people in the advertising industry... The biggest advertising trends of 2015 and what 2016 has in store MediaCom Beyond Advertising have been reflecting on the past year and speculating what is to come in 2016. Air Rescue back on the radar for series three on Channel 7 'Three things' with Tom Curtis and MBA UK: Nikon, Sony and creative instagramming Head of MBA UK, Tom Curtis, talks about some of the brilliant projects coming out of London, the long term future of content and why his son, Dom, is an aspiring creative genius... MBA Global Head James Morris wins Drum Content Marketer of the Year James won big at the inaugural Drum Content Awards in London... Sony Mobile and Red Bull: a ground breaking partnership Red Bull Media House’s awesome new riding film has been released in partnership with Sony Xperia Z5 Premium... MediaCom & Chandon raise a toast to Australians living life unplanned Agencies, brands or publishers? Who owns content? Creator Networks – what, why and how? MBA's Libby Wright explores the role of Creative Networks... The Creative Trail by Nikon Why the decline of the dot-com is making way for the rise of content Nikon and The Telegraph create 'The Moment' Why collaboration is vital for content marketing to deliver amazing results Why the future of advertising is human Although technology is changing our world, its still a world populated by real life people. This means businesses need to increasingly consider their role in society in order to be successful... Three reasons why media agencies are the future ‘Love your car’ with Shell and The Telegraph MediaCom appoints Simon Jarosz as new Creative Director, as Shelby Craig sets up specialist division in L.A. A global expansion of MBA sees Craig return home to L.A, as Jarosz takes over national role based in Sydney. I Am Different with Nikon and Factory Media Insight Work that Works 'I Can Hear Things Others Can't' Silent Disco with Sony MBA & Biore create a spa haven for Splendour in the Grass festival go-ers MediaCom & Biore create a spa haven for festival revellers Why defining the role of branded content is so vital Content. Everyone’s talking about it, lots of people are doing it, but only a handful are doing it well... New brief? Why not embrace your inner hipster Have you heard that joke about Hipsters? You know the one... "Why does a hipster always burn their mouth when they drink coffee? Because they drank it before it was cool..." Cannes Lions 2015: MediaCom Beyond Advertising picks up three awards Taco Bell Canada Launches the Quesarito in Epic Style 'Three things’ with Morten Kristensen and MBA Denmark: distribution, programmatic and the Chicago Bulls MediaCom Denmark CEO, Morten Kristensen, talks about the challenges that 2015 has presented – including how best to distribute the great content we produce and how to get over the Chicago Bulls losing in the NBA Playoffs… The Festival of Media Global Awards: MBA picks up five wins It was a successful evening in Rome for our teams from Germany, Norway and Australia... MBA Australia bag two awards at the Festival of Media Asia Pacific Following a brilliant 2014 in Australia, MBA have begun 2015 where we left off by winning two awards for our work with Queensland Heath and beyondblue… ‘Three things’ with Gemma Hunter and MBA Australia: success, innovation and shoes! Executive Creative Director and Head of MBA Australia, Gemma Hunter, discusses becoming BEfest's 2014 Content Marketing Agency of the Year, an innovative Audi campaign and her life outside of work... 'Three Things' with James Morris: the Cristal Festival, the future of content and Christmas shopping