As most of you will be aware, the Rugby World Cup kicked off last Friday. And just like the Football World Cup, Wimbledon and other key sporting events, brands across the world are looking to capitalise on the buzz surrounding it. Why wouldn’t you?
However, an article I read in The Guardian claims that The International Rugby Board give off the vibe that they’re pretty choosy about who they select as sponsors, advertisers and product partners. Unlike some other sporting events, it’s not just about the money – it’s about the brand values.
The Guardian reckons that rugby is perceived to attract fans who are “middle/upper class” and “intelligent” (my thoughts on this to follow!), and this is why so many brands want to jump on the bandwagon and associate themselves with such traits.
Land Rover certainly fits the bill. Laura Schwab, Land Rover UK’s marketing director, claims: “At Land Rover, we have a long history of supporting rugby from the grassroots up and we share many of the values that also sit at the heart of the game.”
Its #WeDealInReal campaign is certainly impressive, telling the stories of 11 amateur rugby clubs from around the world; for example, Mull Rugby Club in Scotland, whose team members have to travel by boat to get to the club.
The film’s voiceover says: “We deal in strength. We deal in determination. We deal in spirit. We deal in integrity. We deal in blood, sweat and dirt… At Land Rover, from grassroots to the greatest stage, we deal in real." Pretty powerful and resonating stuff.
As Guinness also shows (with its equally engaging ‘Never Alone’ campaign featuring Gareth Thomas), adopting a half-hearted approach simply won’t do.
However, something bugged me about The Guardian’s claims: not all of today's rugby fans – or players for that matter – come from middle to upper class backgrounds. Some are from the lower, working classes. Rugby is no longer the reserve of “posh boys”, so surely that means marketers shouldn't just concentrate on attracting that demographic?
As more working-class players start to make their way into the big leagues (Rugby Union and World Cup), they will undoubtedly bring their working class fans with them. And therefore, an element of Rugby's future audience will be lower or working class.
Because of this changing audience, do you think “lower” or “working-class” brands may be more attracted to advertise and sponsor big events, like the World Cup, in the future?