In 2003 O2 were sponsors of the England Rugby team, but were not official Rugby World Cup partners. This meant that O2 could not brand match kit during the live event or advertise around any of the RWC venues. The challenge was therefore to leverage O2’s association with the England team during a time of heightened public interest in rugby, whilst all the time being mindful and respectful of the legal restrictions around what could and couldn't be said with regard to the Rugby World Cup.
There was some PR activity and a limited amount of traditional display activity. On top of this, a sponsorship of the Times in depth Rugby coverage was agreed. Indeed, the Times had in depth Rugby coverage as they were a partner of the RFU and had a number of high profile columnists signed up. Furthermore, the audience was a good match to the O2 target audience and editorial were keen to work with O2.
A large budget was approved and an extensive package of activity was agreed. This featured display ads, sponsored supplements, advertorials, branded editorial, online activity, sponsored emails, sponsored posters and glossy collectable cards and collectable album.
The partnership went further than this though and a number of mutually beneficial initiatives were agreed, including:
- TNL promoted O2’s editorial sponsorship in their RWC TV and radio ads, while O2 promoted TNL RWC coverage through their Capital Radio Flying Eye sponsorship and through text messages sent to O2 sports fans.
- O2’s Australia beach party and Giant Shirt tour were heavily promoted through Times Newspapers (offering readers the chance to get involved with the England team). - TNL endorsed and promoted O2 Active’s RWC services (text updates, video streaming,ring tones etc) on an exclusive basis in return for a share of generated revenue.
- O2 and TNL were able to work together with the RFU to distribute over 45,000 collector albums and posters to rugby clubs and mini-rugby and RFU junior supporters’ clubs.
Activity ran from August until December and achieved fantastic awareness results - a large proportion of the population were aware of the campaign and awareness of particular O2 services that had been promoted increased significantly. This activity had even driven the promotional bus tour through central London!
Everyone involved in this project was pleased with the outcome. Paul Hayes, General Manager at the Times publicly stated the following:
“The deal that gave me the most pleasure this year was struck with O2 and ZenithOptimedia to sponsor the entire TNL Rugby World Cup output... required a close working relationship with an equally committed agency and client.”
Will be interesting to see if anyone can top this in 2007!
Further examples of executions: