Will Rugby World Cup sponsorship reap the benefits for brands?

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As the dust settles on the Fifa scandals, meaning sponsors can keep a low profile for now, the attention now turns to the Rugby World Cup which is being held in the UK. Yes that’s correct, here at home, not that many have noticed.

It’s interesting to hear that Heineken is to push 50% of its marketing budget into Rugby World Cup sponsorship in an effort to ‘maintain its recent sales momentum and continue its association with ‘world class events’.

With the tournament starting on 17 September to the 31 October, will supporters – whether die hard or casual – be captivated for a full six weeks? More importantly, will sponsors reap the benefits before viewer apathy possibly settles in?

Statistics have shown that 20.6 million Brits tuned into the Football World Cup final in 2014, compared to just six million for the previous Rugby World Cup final in 2011. So with a longer period to keep a global audience engaged and fewer viewers, the challenge for sponsors is how do you engage with consumers to reap the rewards of sponsorship? That’s a lot of beer over and above that would have been sold to balance the 50% investment.

To keep consumers interested throughout, brands need to involve consumers in the sport, not just the tournament itself. Dedicated fans will stay interest regardless, but to keep non-fans interested there needs to be a connection to the actual sport. Using an omni-channel experience to guide consumers between online and in store is the best way for brands to create this engagement.

As part of its online strategy for the tournament, Coca-Cola is running an on-pack giveaway where consumers can enter a code online to potentially win a Coca-Cola branded, World Cup Gilbert Rugby ball. As with many past sporting events sponsored by the brand, Coca-Cola is encouraging consumers to enjoy their products whilst watching the tournament, but also to get involved and play the game itself.

By creating this engagement, the brand is ensuring continued consumer interest in the sport, and as a result the larger tournament.

Many other sponsors are yet to reveal their online strategies for the tournament, or how they will create this important engagement with fans. With just over a month until the opening ceremony, brands need to start building the hype. Only time will tell if the sponsors can reap the benefits by keeping fans engaged throughout.

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