If it were possible for an inanimate sporting trophy to have a personality, then it’s probably safe to say that the Rugby World Cup itself, would currently be lying down in a darkened room screaming “not another selfie please.”
The cup is meandering its way around Britain, going on display at more than 350 events to publicise this autumn’s showpiece, with thousands of rugby devotees and many more that are there to be converted, all having their photos taken with it.
Actually to say it is meandering does a disservice to its means of transport. Land Rover’s specially customised vehicle that is the cup’s “sweet chariot” is attracting almost as much attention as the trophy itself, and is just part of the company’s extensive investment in the sport and in the competition, highlighted by their We Deal in Real campaign.
You won’t be able to move for Land Rovers as the official carrier of the event, and every time there’s a break during ITV’s coverage of the tournament, a clever vignette film sponsored by Land Rover will act as the bridge between the match and the adverts.
“The demographic of rugby is our brand.” says global brand experience director Mark Cameron. “The parents of the tens of thousands of kids who play on a Sunday morning are our audience. I took our new marketing boss, who’s German, to the west car park at Twickenham for the England-France game at the end of the Six Nations, and he saw all the Land Rovers there. He got the link instantly.”
Having said that, one of the tasks facing every sponsor of the World Cup is to find a different, unique aspect to the relationship that will resonate with the widest possible audience. Land Rover’s involvement in finding the 96 mascots for the 48 matches will most definitely do that. “Everyone started somewhere”, says Cameron, “so we have set out to find a young mascot from all the competing nations, from Tonga to Uruguay, the USA to Fiji, in a huge global campaign, which will give the kids concerned the most amazing experience, but will also help emphasise the link from the absolute base of the sport to the pinnacle – which is what we’re about.”
And in an homage to the tradition of the Barbarians, the most famous international invitation team, while all the mascots will be wearing an official World Cup uniform, they will all also wear the socks of their own club, which will “immediately resonate with all their friends and family and club mates back home all over the world.”
Land Rover’s sporting pedigree includes a long-standing involvement with the Burghley Horse Trials, and an extreme sailing series that takes 40 foot catamarans to cities as varied as St Petersburg and Sydney. As with all sponsorship deals, it all comes down to return on investment, but Cameron sees the Rugby World Cup deal as a huge opportunity, domestically and globally, given the fact that it puts the company in the public eye for six weeks.
“We consider all the obvious stuff. What would it have cost us to pay for an equivalent amount of advertising? The many hours of broadcast coverage, the PR we get, and also the leads that our staff pick up at the stadia which might in the end leads to sales. There are so many factors at play, but it’s not just about that. It’s about involving all our staff from Halesowen to Solihull and beyond. Some of our staff are acting as volunteers. It really is something that everyone involved in Land Rover can get behind.”
Cameron was in New Zealand to see the All Blacks win in 2011 and recalls the “overwhelming sense of elation that consumed the nation.” His rugby adventures have also taken him to Hong Kong and on the 2013 British and Irish Lions tour to Australia. So what does he think will happen this time around? “Obviously our nightmare scenario is England not getting out of their group, “he says “but on the other hand, just imagine what it would be like with England on a victory parade.” You suspect a top-secret customised Land Rover open-top bus is already on a drawing board somewhere. Just in case.
Land Rover's Rugby World Cup 2015 campaign, We Deal In Real, will champion the people that are at the heart and soul of the game by putting grassroots clubs on the global stage: www.landrover.com/rugby @LandRoverRugby #WeDealInReal