“Dive in” to rugby – Jaguar Land Rover on the Rugby World Cup 2019

Written by Sterling Content
May 25, 2018


Written by Sterling Content
May 25, 2018

Unfamiliarity with rugby shouldn’t deter firms from getting involved in the Rugby World Cup (RWC), according to Magnus Hansson, representative director CEO of BCCJ Platinum Member Jaguar Land Rover Japan Limited. Instead, firms need simply to understand the rugby community to develop marketing opportunities for the upcoming global sporting event.

Hansson joined Dagmar Nedbal, head of marketing and communications of fellow RWC 2019 sponsor Mastercard, for a session entitled “Rugby World Cup 2019—Discovering the Marketing Goldmine” at Advertising Week Asia in Tokyo in mid-May.

At 44 days’ duration, Hansson pointed out that the RWC is one of the longest sporting tournaments in the world. Moreover, the venues it utilises are spread geographically throughout the host nation. Both characteristics bring benefits to sponsors.

He encouraged businesses and organisations thinking about engaging with the tournament to “dive in and visit games—even games abroad,” so they can better understand their key target audiences.

Nedbal said Mastercard’s campaign at the RWC 2015 in England was strengthened by utilising more than 65,000 emotional and experiential assets worldwide. These included hosting 1,600 guests at fan zones throughout the country and events with the theme “Turning the World Oval: Priceless.”

“Traditional branding doesn’t cut through anymore,” she explained. “Experiences play a big role [in marketing] and people want the unexpected.”

Meanwhile, Jaguar Land Rover engaged one in four of its employees in its award-winning RWC 2015 campaign, entitled “We Deal in Real,” which celebrated grassroots rugby and the spirit of the game.

The passion involved in sport, coupled with sport’s connection to performance, excellence and iconic personalities, has made sport a critical platform for Jaguar Land Rover, according to Hansson. In addition to rugby, the firm has sponsored top equestrian and sailing events as well as the Invictus Games.

“Rugby is a great fit for Jaguar Land Rover,” said Hansson, pointing out that the two share many values, such as integrity, courage, pride and capability. “Both are also British, which is a natural connection that people immediately understand,” he added.

Brand association

In another session at the Tokyo event, Naoki Maeda, director of the Japan Rugby Football Union, and Makoto Nishiki, executive committee member of Asia Rugby, agreed that the RWC 2019 could enhance and strengthen firms’ corporate branding.

In Aomori Prefecture, where there is a lack of human resources, the Seinan Group sponsors the local women’s rugby team.

“They support the women’s team because women are needed to build the future of Japan,” explained Maeda. “Players need to have courage, attitude, teamwork, patience and resilience, as do women. These are also the company’s values; they are printed in notebooks that the staff use every day.”

Nishiki also pointed out how rugby can build and revitalise local communities, develop character and inspire education through programmes such as ChildFund Pass It Back, which delivers life skills through rugby to young people in disadvantaged communities in Asia.

As one goal of the RWC 2019 is to grow the sport globally, particularly in Asia—through grassroots initiatives, awareness-raising and broadcasting—experts are expecting more and more firms to align their brands with rugby in the forthcoming months.

Indeed, Jaguar Land Rover’s Hansson doesn’t believe the low penetration of rugby in Japan at present should be an issue for potential sponsors of the RWC 2019.

“Rugby is a very popular sport among our target customers but, beyond the rugby fans, it is inevitable that people in Japan will pay attention to rugby as we get closer to the tournament,” he said. “Growing the sport and growing interest in the sport is of mutual benefit to rugby and to us. We want to leverage our brand to help develop the sport globally.”