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The Rugby World Cup and market momentum

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, RWC 2015 on 23 Oct 2015 at 11:02
Tagged with : , , , ,

As a truly global spectacle and pinnacle of the international game, there’s very little doubt that the four-yearly Rugby World Cup competition is special. Coaches and players plan international careers around World Cups, fans put their daily lives on hold while it’s in progress and as we’ve seen in 2015, the global game seems to somehow always take a step u in terms of quality whenever the eyes of the world are watching. Rugby World Cups, though, have a significant impact off the field, with major global brands using the tournament as an opportunity for maximum exposure – hoping to get a jump on their rivals.

Sponsorships are an entrenched part of the professional game, with multinational corporations investing millions in event like the Rugby World Cup in order to increase not only brand awareness, but, more importantly, sales and revenue. For those listed on major global indices, there could even be an impact in terms of share price, making the decision to participate in a Rugby World Cup sponsorship deal something that piques the interest of potential investors. And here you thought that betting on the outcome of a game was the only way to make money off rugby!

The attractiveness of the Rugby World Cup, from a potential sponsor’s point of view, is clear. Not only does World Rugby offer a truly global platform (with 460 000 expected to watch games live and hundreds of millions more tuning in via TV), but they also guarantee their chosen investors something even more valuable: exclusivity. Anyone want to take a punt on just how much that exclusivity on alcohol sales across the tournament venues must meant to Heineken? Based on the amount of the stuff I personally drank at the Olympic Stadium two weeks ago, I reckon there was a percent or two on the share price right there.

Direct sales of merchandise, though, are unlikely to be the real carrot for many of the sponsors involved; after all, it’s not like you can send a shipment via DHL, or buy a MasterCard product (since they have none) directly at the stadium. Of far more value is the combination of maximum exposure of your own brand and the absence of any direct competition. How much must a company like Emirates be enjoying the absence of a Qantas logo on the Wallaby jersey for a period of 6 weeks? Likewise, official sponsor Societe General must perceive huge benefit from their own World Cup exposure, at the expense of banking rivals like RBS (Scotland), Barclays (whose ABSA subsidiary sponsors South Africa) and Principality (Wales). Argentina are usually sponsored by VISA, but MasterCard won’t have to worry about that for now.

Rival sponsors will often go to extreme lengths to try and carve out a piece of somebody else’s pie (thankfully, these days it tends to be more subtle than MTN’s attempt to hijack the Vodacom Cup some years back by acquiring naming rights to the Valke team). With rival apparel providers to tournament sponsor Canterbury allowed just a small logo on the breast of each of the jerseys they manufacture, one in particular seems to be trying some rather dastardly tactics to get their logo a little more airtime. I mean, I’m sure it’s nothing more than a coincidence that the All Black’s new tournament haka formation co closely resembles the triangular sigil of their sponsor, Adidas?


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