Australia takes its sport seriously – so when its national rugby side takes the field in the World Cup, it’s big business for sponsors and advertising partners. Not least because the Wallabies are among the favourites to win the Rugby World Cup.
So how are Australia’s sponsors showing their support for the team at home and abroad – and how are other advertisers working with the Wallabies?
Ahead of the World Cup, long-time sponsor Qantas extended its 25-year partnership with the Wallabies, continuing its role as naming rights partner for the team. As well as displaying the team’s livery on its planes, the airline has also created a series of Late Night Match Guides on YouTube, which offer fans tips on how to prepare for the matches and deal with the time difference between Australia and the UK.
Samsung has taken a similar approach with its "We Rise Together" campaign by Iris Sydney, playing on the dedication of Australian rugby fans who have to get up in the middle of the night to watch the team play. The ad enlists fullback Izzy Folau, exhorting fans to get up early to support the Wallabies as they play in the "Group of Death". Fans can also download an alarm ringtone from Folau to their phone, and enter a competition to support the team through the #WeRiseTogether hashtag.
Sportswear manufacturer Skins – which supplies compression garments to the Australian side as well as Tonga and Samoa – is playing on local loyalties by encouraging Australian fans to back a second team from the "Pacific Islands Supporters Club". Using a #myotherteam hashtag and home team rugby badges designed by a Polynesian tattoo artist, it serves to keep the brand in Australian fans’ minds even when the Wallabies aren’t playing.
Another major partner for Australia is Asics. This partnership gains the running trainer company the specialist title of "Official Performance Apparel and FootWear of the Qantas Wallabies". Asics’ main piece of creative is – in comparison to some others out there – very basic, simply showing some players laying some tackles in a dark lit environment. It almost feels like the advert was made just because that's what was expected of the company; without a memorable theme it will likely get lost in the mass of adverts that use players in training shown during the Rugby World Cup.
Elsewhere, the sportswear company’s released a short video featurette showing how it’s created size 19 boots for Wallabies Lock Will Skelton – which emphasises the challenges he’s faced playing with poorly-fitting footwear in the past, and the technology Asics has used to create a suitable boot for him to wear to the tournament.
Official vehicle partner BMW has positioned itself as the "Driving Force" behind the team, with a patriotic ad from Ogilvy&Mather Melbourne set to the strains of – what else? – Waltzing Matilda. The campaign’s supported by large-format OOH and digital executions, along with in-store POS and CRM.
Meanwhile in the UK, Lucozade has enlisted Australian players for a campaign suggesting that only the home nations are allowed to buy the drink. The joke may be on the Wallabies, but it shows them playing along with the fun; winger Drew Mitchell takes elocution lessons and dons a Chris Robshaw mask in a bid to get his hands on the isotonic drink. The result is a bit mixed; is it harmless fun, or a bid to stoke up some conflict that could backfire on the brand? Only time will tell.