With Ireland’s crunch match against France only days away, Jamie Macken of Livewire looks at what has been happening off the pitch in terms of the brands, the fans and the various analogue and digital channels.
The 2015 Rugby World Cup is almost three weeks old and after 27 matches, 155 tries and 1,404 points, the time has almost arrived for the eagerly anticipated match between Ireland and France. 30% of Irish fans believe that Ireland will go all the way and lift the Webb Ellis Cup, this contrasts with just 13% predicting France can do the same.
Whatever the result, the weekly RWC Insider will assess all the action off the pitch, including social and digital media, search stats, broadcast ratings, advertising and sponsorship activations. But first, a review of the third week of RWC action that included England crashing out of their own tournament.
Before the tournament kicked off, 57% of the public stated they were interested in the Rugby World Cup. Given the high level of interest, it is perhaps not surprising that 70% of the available television audience tuned in to watch Ireland beat Italy on Sunday, achieving TV3’s highest ever ratings in the process. The match had an average audience of 956k, peaking at 1.84 million.
The widespread use of video in sponsor activations is nothing new; most Irish rugby and RWC sponsors have produced video content in recent weeks, and often with great success. For example, Canterbury’s “Four Provinces, One Team” has had an average of 25k views per day. This is second only to a video featuring the unveiling of a sculpture at Twickenham by Land Rover which has been watched an average of 28k per day since its launch on 23rd September.
While the use of video activations is nothing new, the choice of platform to promote this content has changed significantly in the past twelve months. Recent RWC activity illustrates how Facebook now far exceeds YouTube on average in both views and engagement. For example, Aer Lingus’ “Ireland’s Call” social video – which includes appearances from Tommy Bowe, Rob Kearney, Conor Murray and Aer Lingus crew – has reached 983k views on Facebook compared with 173k on YouTube.
Google has received a 53.57% increase in search traffic for “Land Rover” from Ireland over the past four weeks compared to the same period last year. This statistic alone suggests the €450k spent by the motor brand to sponsor TV3’s coverage of the RWC is having an effect. Of course, that is on top of a reported €27m spent to become a Worldwide Partner of Rugby World Cup 2015.
DHL, another worldwide partner has seen a 32.03% increase in search traffic, while Ireland’s team sponsor, Three, has seen a whopping 65.53% increase in search traffic over the last four weeks – the largest increase of all the IRFU sponsors, compared to last year.
On Twitter, match mentions, such as #IRLvITA, have grown every week since the start of the tournament, increasing by 10% for Ireland vs Romania, and a further 35% for Ireland vs Italy. However, the crucial match between England and Australia was the mention leader with #ENGvAUS taking 87% of the total match mention share. The interest in this game is mirrored by an average of 688,400 viewers on TV3, which is incredibly high for a game not featuring Ireland. #ENGvAUS was followed by #NZLvGEO (7.3%), #IRLvITA (5.3%) and #FRAvCAN (0.5%).
Keith Earls contributing on and off the pitch
For the second week running Keith Earls (@KEITHEARLS87) was the most mentioned Irish player on Twitter (23% of total share) after scoring Ireland’s only try against the Azzurri. World Cup debutant, Robbie Henshaw (16.6%) (@henshawrob), and Man of the Match Ian Henderson (13.2%) (@HendersonIain) were the second and third most mentioned players.
Sponsors have largely front loaded their activations for the Rugby World Cup, producing content that has been consumed in the build up to the tournament with not a huge amount of new or tactical activity during the tournament itself. This is somewhat of a surprise given the predictability of Ireland’s pool – with big matches against Italy and France. Notably, Lucozade, the IRFU’s official sports drink, has up weighted its outdoor campaign at Dublin DART stations with a Dublin bus wrap.
The brand also increased social media activity during the Ireland vs Italy game, @LucozadeSportIE reached fourth in the Twitter charts for rugby-related Tweeters from the weekend, leaving a combined 1.6m impressions, and their #KnowSweatKnowTriumph campaign was the 10th most used rugby related hashtag with 11 tweets, 594 retweets and 2.5m impressions.
Emirates is activating its Worldwide Partner status by being truly worldwide. The brand’s #BringingRugbyHome campaign challenges fans to post a photo of the passion of rugby on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram for a chance to win flights to Dubai. This content is being shared via Emirates’ worldwide twitter account (@emirates) to maximise campaign coverage, compared to, for example, Heineken’s regional handles (@Heineken_IE or @Heineken_UK) or Land Rover’s dedicated rugby handle (@LandRoverRugby).
To encourage fans to take part, Emirates cabin crew have been posing outside of Rugby World Cup stadiums on match day with a large #BringingRugbyHome sign.
33% of Irish fans believe that, overall, corporate sponsorship of the Rugby World Cup is having a positive effect on the tournament. To date Aer Lingus, who only became an IRFU partner in April, is having the greatest impact; 39% of fans believe the sponsor has made the tournament better as a result of its sponsorship. Three, unable to feature its logo on the jersey due to RWC rights restrictions, is still having considerable impact with 31% of fans stating that the brand’s sponsorship has added to the tournament. 27% of fans feel Heineken, a worldwide partner of the RWC 2015, is having a positive effect.
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