At the early Olympics, every four years triumphant athletes were lauded by having sponsorships called out (family name and native town), odes written and likenesses commissioned. These ancient versions of mass media frenzy were designed to create buzz and sing the virtues of the victorious. Today, major sporting events continue to represent big opportunities for ambassadorships and sponsors, since everyone loves a winning athlete.
As the world’s third-biggest sporting event, attracting an audience of 4.5 billion, brands of all sizes have jumped on board. Three thousand years later, what can we learn from the contemporary interpretation of getting one’s brand behind huge sporting events such as the Rugby World Cup?
Note that brand strategy in 2015 requires the “softly, softly”, more authentic and transparent approach for even the most hard-core rubgy fans. Here’s what we mean by that:
1. Humanizing Your Brand (case study Duracell)
2. Developing Influencers (case study Heineken)
3. Adding Values (case study EY)
4. Thinking Locally (case study Land Rover)
5. Using How-To (case study Canon)
Humanizing Your Brand: Duracell’s Powerplay
First and foremost, you want a battery that lasts; not much else about a battery is terribly important. But, how do you know when the battery is about to die? Unlike smartphones, there’s no indicator screen — unless you’re using PowerCheck technology, uniquely found on Duracell batteries since 1996.
Duracell re-positioned #PowerCheck within the rugby event framework, capitalizing on an ideal opportunity for Duracell to emphasize both power and strength. A two-pronged approach, to put a face (and physique) to the brand, enlisted Wales and British Lions captain Sam Warburton as the muscle-bound ambassador for a digital, in-store and PR campaign featuring footage from previous Rugby World Cups.
On the 2015 World Cup rugby pitch, #PowerCheck technology is used to help to track players’ performance indicators, combining rucks, tackles, carries and turnovers won during each game, rewarding those who “stay stronger for longer.”
Image via www.marketingweek.com and www.duracell.com
Alex Haslam, senior assistant brand manager for Duracell UK & Ireland, told Marketing Week the sponsorship will continue in future years and become part of the brand’s long-term brand strategy. Haslam said, “We know we’re not going to own rugby as a brand, but we’ve created something totally ownable. No other brand is talking about power and longevity.”
Actionable Branding Tip 1
How can I humanize my brand? The Duracell brand strategy can help smaller brands because it’s totally scaleable. Community events, county championships, school fairs, local youth sport clubs, charity fun runs and tournaments all present opportunities for associating your brand with local heroes and teams. Sponsor T-shirts, donate the local juniors’ kits, donate printing services, provide snacks and beverages for break time. We can help you find a great fit for your brand message in connection to a well-respected event, just like Duracell did.
Developing Brand Influencers: Heineken’s Heads or Tails
Former England captain Will Carling is a rugby VIP. Heineken is a big beer brand. People watch the rugby while drinking beer. Everyone gets that…but, there’s more to a tie-up than hiring someone like Carling to hold up the famous green beer bottle with the red star for the camera.
Heineken thought out some ways to get armchair fans involved with star rugby brand ambassadors to enhance the spectator experience, even to the extent of getting 48 fans onto the actual field to open matches, creating untold positive reinforcement for Heineken.
The campaign, “It’s Your Call” was created. Consumers find a unique code on the inside of special Heineken promotional packs or on a coin card given out in pubs when buying a Heineken during the promotion. Up for grabs are thousands of official Rugby World Cup 2015 merchandise prizes and the chance to flip the coin at Rugby World Cup 2015 matches.
To further emphasize “experiences, not just sponsorship,” Will Carling includes coin toss winners in video interviews with top rugby stars, while consumers are invited to live tweet at the rugby legends.
David Lette, premium brands director for Heineken UK, told Marketing Week, “The key thing for us is how we drive the association in a unique and experiential way for consumers.”
Image via www.marketingweek.com and www.heineken.com
Actionable Branding Tip 2
Can a smaller brand develop influencers? Absolutely. Heineken created evangelists-for-life by rewarding ordinary consumers and small brands can, too. Influencers don’t need to be famous. Your brand’s evangelists are your satisfied customers, and they’re happy to enter competitions, provide testimonials, attend events, sample new products, appear in videos. Just begin the conversation with them and press “record.” We’ll show you how to create effective videos within budget.
Adding Values: EY (Ernst & Young) Connects the Dots
Appointed as the official business advisor for the tournament, professional services firm EY (Ernst & Young LLP) targeted a B2B opportunity outside the consumer sphere.
Image via www.ey.com
Homing in on good sportsmanship values like leadership, motivation, performance and teamwork, EY connects the dots to resonate with their client base. Via exclusive seminars and publishing interviews with highly regarded rugby personalities, EY stays relevant while shining a light on their brand’s appointment.
Comments from proven winners in the world of rugby come from Katy Mclean, England women’s captain; Sir Graham Henry, former coach of New Zealand’s All Blacks; and Sir Ian McGeechan, former Scotland and British Lions player and coach, on topics such as “Lessons in Leadership: Rugby to the Boardroom.” It’s a perfect fit for B2B.
Image via www.ey.com
Tom Kingsley, sport and sponsorship director at EY, illustrates the tie-in, “On a daily basis we are asked by our clients about how to compete on a global stage…
Rugby World Cup affords us the opportunity to explore some of those issues because it is the coming together of 20 elite rugby teams all with one aim — to win on the global stage.”
Actionable Branding Tip 3
We’re a B2B brand, but small: Smaller business can mirror EY’s content marketing strategy by creating white papers, blog posts, newsletters, webinars, videos and other B2B marketing initiatives that deliver meaningful information and added value to clients and prospects. When there’s a trending event, connect to it through content. We’ll show you how hashtags are your workhorse and a strongly developed brand content strategy can help you punch well above your weight.
Think Locally: Land Rover Drives the Message Home
Fact: every sports hero and Olympian began as an amateur. Land Rover plucked “from the grassroots to the greatest stage” as the theme for their local-to-global storytelling campaign using the hashtag #WeDealInReal. The brand recruited 96 enthusiastic mascots aged 7-13 from 11 amateur rugby clubs around the world, representing each competing country to run out with their nation’s team.
Image via www.landrover.com
People are drawn to inspirational stories. Among the videos created to support the campaign, the biggest hit is titled, “Land Rover Rugby Ambassadors visit the World’s Smallest Rugby Club.”
“It speaks to the heart of the game and I think it also speaks strongly to the brand about being authentic and genuine,” Laura Schwab, UK marketing director at parent company Jaguar Land Rover, told Marketing Week.
Actionable Branding Tip 4
Great idea, but we’re not a global brand. Small brands are perfectly positioned to drive Land Rover’s concept forward. As a mascot for the Welsh Rugby Union, pint-sized 8-year-old Finlay Walker at Llanharan RFC and a Hampshire local rugby club were not too tiny to garner attention from Jaguar Land Rover. Every brand can — and must — tell their own authentic brand stories one person at a time. We can help you identify and create the best story opportunities using our Story Selling System™.
Using How To: Canon Says You Can
Idea #1: Spot yourself in the stands? Official sponsor of the tournament, Canon is producing a series of 360-degree images capturing the entire stadium during major matches. In a clever interactive twist, fans are encouraged to tag themselves in the crowd via social media.
Image via www.rugbyworldcup.com
Idea #2: Exclusivity rocks. Canon offers amateur photographers who post the best rugby shots to shadow a Getty Images photographer at a RWC 2015 training session. The shots get featured on the official RWC website photo gallery. Who knows what special moments might be captured?
Image via www.rugbyworldcup.com
Idea #3: How-to tips. Self-proclaimed “massive fan” Bear Grylls, intrepid adventurer, is joined by professional rugby photographer Dave Rogers to demonstrate angles, shutter speeds and more tips for capturing great shots like Rogers’ famous Jonny Wilkinson drop kick in Sydney from 2003.
Cyprian da Costa, brand communications director for Canon Europe, said that images play “a vital role in capturing the unmatched excitement and emotion of global sports.”
Image via www.rugbyworldcup.com
Actionable Branding Tip 5
How can Canon ideas help my brand? By turning your brand marketing approach on its head. Years ago, a big brand idea around a huge event would have focused on “Canon can…” rather than “You can…” Take a second look at all your brand’s content and brand collateral, adverts, tag lines and social media to re-position everything with an emphasis on your brand seen through the eyes of your audience, not your executive boardroom. We’re here to help.
We’d love to know what you think about how to scale these five big brand approaches to fit a smaller brand size.
• Are you using event tie-ins in your brand content marketing strategy?
• Would you like to know more about hacking trends?
• Have you shot and posted a library of how-to videos?
• Are you telling compelling stories about your brand? This is where you might want to consider brand profiling using a system like our Personality Profile Performer™ combined with our Story Selling System™ to help you develop a really compelling and distinctively different brand.
• Is CSR part of your brand strategy? Does your brand support a school, community program or charity drive?
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