As the six nations draws to a close this weekend, rugby fans around the world will start the countdown to the 2015 Rugby World Cup when England and Wales will play host to the third largest sporting event in the world and hundreds of brands will go head-to-head to capture the attention of the world’s rugby fans.
When the first match kicks off on 18 September and 20 nations begin battle for the title they will do so in front of a global audience of millions. At 48 fixtures, 13 venues and 11 host cities there will be 24 glorious days of the world’s best rugby and some incredible experiential and event work branching out from the stadiums, cities, transport hubs and right across the country.
Work is already well underway for the official sponsors, Coca-Cola, Toshiba and Canon as well as for the worldwide partners that include the likes of Heineken, Land Rover and Mastercard, amongst others. Their official status will have bought them unique platforms and opportunities on which to build marketing campaigns that will allow them to reach the enormous audiences that World Cup event’s capture.
Experiential will be pivotal to the marketing campaigns that these huge international brands will have created to engage with consumers across the globe and we can expect to see the marketing industry at its creative best.
Event work for the official sponsors is likely to break new ground in their use of social media at live events to amplify brand messages and in their creation of online experiences for armchair fans.
For every official brand partner there will be a hundred other brands and businesses jostling in a marketing scrum to get a piece of the action and piggy-back what will be the greatest show on earth for six nail-biting weeks.
To be successful the brands need to connect with the passion people have for the sport, bringing it to life, fully immersing them in the atmosphere and the excitement in order to cut through the promotional clutter and marketing noise generated around the World Cup.
Last year’s FIFA World Cup produced some memorable campaigns from McCoy’s recreation of a local pub in Rio where fans could watch the games in the comfort of their local yet be able step outside and soak up the atmosphere on the streets of Rio. There was also sensory match screenings in the UK that re-produced the sights, sounds and smells straight from Brazil with aromas that evoked everything from the beaches of Brazil to the scent of the celebratory Champagne.
We can expect to see more of these immersive activations as the excitement builds in the run up to September.
But World Cup event’s don’t just inspire great work they can also produce some of the worst work I’ve seen. Many brands simply fail to achieve cut through and consequently become part of the promotional clutter that surrounds these global events. In fact, I would estimate that around 60% of marketing around World Cup events fails to engage with the consumer in a memorable way.
A failure to plan properly and create the critical ‘build up’ is also a common cause of unsuccessful campaigns. Activation needs to start months ahead of kick off.
For sponsors Land Rover and DHL, activity started back in May 2014 with the Rugby World Cup Tour as the Webb Ellis Cup began to travel the globe building up to its last 100-day tour of the UK and Ireland in June.
Having had the privilege to work on the Olympic Torch relay in 2012 from the very first day in Land’s End to the last in London I know just how inspirational these incredible touring events are and for a brand they tick every box – they engage with consumers in an unique way and create an experience that is never forgotten. They also reach huge audiences - last year’s Coca Cola FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour was one of the biggest ever experiential campaigns with more than a million fans connecting to the tour in 90 countries.
This year’s Rugby World Cup is being widely tipped to be one of the biggest and best yet as well as one of the largest sporting events ever staged in the UK. As a lifelong rugby fan I can’t wait for 18 September when the UK gets the chance to showcase the best rugby on the planet and also the best experiential work. It’s going to be a great year for sports fans and our industry.
Rob Quinn, MD of brand experience agency, Purity
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