With the post-mortems still ongoing and the hangovers abating, Ireland’s failure to get to this weekend’s semi-finals of the Rugby World Cup will have come as a blow to some of the sponsors and brands associated with Irish rugby. The disappointing result against Argentina, however, did not stop the flurry of activity in the build-up to the do-or-die match last Sunday according to the latest instalment of the RWC Tracker which is compiled by the Core Media-owned Livewire.
According to the Livewire Tracker, Ireland’s game against Argentina on Sunday reached an average of 1.09m viewers – peaking at 1.27m during the last ten minutes of the game. This was an average decrease of 59,000 (5%) compared to the Ireland versus France match the previous weekend, with the match peaking at 246,000 less viewers than the French match (18%).
Despite starting the game with roughly the same viewership (741,000 for Ireland versus Argentina, compared to 774,000 for Ireland versus Argentina), Ireland’s collapse in the first and last fifteen minutes meant that there wasn’t the same growth in viewership during the match. Viewership from the first whistle to the last grew by 61% for Ireland vs Argentina, compared to 85% for Ireland vs France. For the first time in the tournament there were more viewers switching off the game during a 10 minute period of play than were tuning into it.
Irish interest in the RWC2015 increased by 3% from the start of the tournament to last weekend, with the largest increase (5%) coming from women. 53% of Irish women stated that they had an interest in the tournament this month – up from 48% in September.
Average awareness of sponsors also increased from 31% to 34% from the tournament start to lasts weekend. Paddy Power made the largest increase in awareness as a sponsor of the IRFU, jumping from 21% of consumers being aware on September 14th to 32% aware on October 19th. According to the RWC Tracker, fans who have attended RWC matches feel, on average, 23% more positive towards sponsors compared with fans who have not managed to attend a game.
The momentum created by the Aer Lingus Irish team sponsorship has continued. The brand’s RWC campaign, which includes the “Ireland’s Call” video and IRFU livery on a fleet of planes, has made the biggest impact on fans who didn’t attend a game. 42% say they feel more positively to the brand as a result of their sponsorship.
“Rugby World Cup 2015” made it to the top of the search trends last weekend, with over 200,000 searches, despite football related searches taking up 8 of the top 20 remaining trends from the day. “Craig Joubert” and “Ireland Rugby” were the top two trending topics in the UK on Sunday, beating Star Wars (new trailer) and Newcastle United (who finally won a match) to the top spots. Craig Joubert, who controversially penalised Scotland’s John Hardie in the final minute at Twickenham, was searched over 200,000 times during the day.
Search traffic for Ireland’s competitors has predictably peaked on game days. However, less predictably, this traffic starts to increase three days before each match and lasts one day after, before returning to the usual search pattern. On average, search for Ireland’s opposing team is 25% of the match-day search volume in Ireland. An opportunity exists for brands to schedule content, social spend & digital activations according to this trend.
Guinness, prohibited from referring to the RWC2015, as it is not a tournament sponsor, has been leveraging the competition by releasing social content in the immediate aftermath of a selection of matches. The brand first shared an image of the Japanese team huddled into the shape of a head of Guinness after the team’s famous win over South Africa. The image generated 13,000 likes, 1,400 shares and over 200 comments on Facebook.
The brand also released content after Romania’s comeback against Canada and Ireland’s attritional win over France, but has not created anything after Ireland’s defeat to Argentina.
According to Livewire’s RWC Tracker, while Irish team sponsor Guinness has tapped into the buzz around the tournament, its competitor and RWC Worldwide Partner, Heineken, has tapped into the national sentiment behind the Irish team. Heineken generated 2,200 likes and 167 shares in the aftermath of Ireland’s defeat with a post titled “Proud”. The brand started its reactive campaign by sharing “Thank5”, a tribute to the loss Paul O’Connell from the Irish team the previous week. These two pieces of content received a combined 4,400 likes, 400 shares and 150 comments on Facebook.
While Heineken and Guinness have shared their reactionary content through social media, Three, used print advertising to activate its sponsorship of the Irish Rugby Team after the quarter final results. The half page ad featured in both the Irish Times and Irish Independent sports sections on Monday, with a combined ABC circulation of 185,000.
While Heineken and Guinness have shared their reactionary content through social media, Three have used print advertising to activate its sponsorship of the Irish Rugby Team after the quarter final results. The half page ad featured in both the Irish Times and Irish Independent sports sections on Monday, with a combined ABC circulation of 185,000.
Elsewhere, Emirates has continued to be the sponsor most visible at RWC stadia and last weekend the brand partnered with fellow RWC sponsor, Canon, to create a 360° fan celebration booth at the Millennium Stadium. The booth, which captures imagery from 360 degrees, is a continuation of its Flag Bearer competition which has been running since the start of the tournament. The GIF can be immediately shared to social media, with fans who tag @Emirates entering into a competition to win flights to Dubai.