Updated: Feb 23
5 reasons why Guinness’ sponsorship of Six Nations is the perfect example of how to deliver top class sports marketing campaigns.
Guinness are no strangers to the sports sponsorship world, particularly in rugby. However, the marketing around their freshman year as Six Nations title sponsor was a pitch perfect example of how to excite fans without distracting from the main event.
Here, we look at 5 reasons why it worked so well…
1. Finding the right property
The brand fit between Guinness and rugby fans is perfect. The brand personality is one of character, heritage and a sense of doing things the right way. Rugby is a sport that has prided itself on these values and Six Nations in particular embodies these attributes.
But it’s not just the brand fit that is perfect, it’s the product too. In many ways Guinness is the perfect accompaniment to live sport. The combination of the two means that Guinness doesn’t need to spend time educating the audience on their product. It’s free to tell interesting stories that amuse, entertain and build the bond between fans and brand.
2. Authentic Storytelling
Guinness have done this brilliantly for years. Many of us remember the classic TV ads that helped redefine the brand in the 90s. Likewise, they’ve done it around rugby in recent years too. Documenting the stories of Shane Williams, told as a youngster he was ‘too small’ for the game, only to become Wales’ all time try scorer amongst many other accolades. Or their piece on Bill McClaren, a fine player, robbed of his chance to play for Scotland due to tuberculosis who went on to become the most iconic commentator of the sport, the ‘voice of rugby’.
Their creatives don’t feel like ads but films, built to entertain and inspire. Underneath all of this, they are reaffirming their brand positioning of ‘Made of More’.
So, to 2019 and they created a film based on the remarkable story of two Welsh brothers who were left money by their late mother, with the strict instructions of spending the inheritance on following Wales at Six Nations. Emotional and authentic it shows a great understanding of the tournament’s strength and why fans love it so much.
Having built this credibility with rugby fans over the years, they feel like a welcome part of ‘fankind’ rather than a company trying to hijack attention.
3. Not treating sponsorship as cut price media
It’s been well documented that Guinness secured this seasons’ sponsorship of Six Nations for considerably less than the previous incumbent, RBS. However, as documented above, they’ve not treated it solely as a value proposition. Instead, they have developed a marketing plan that uses the sponsorship assets, in a way that can enhance fan experience. From media collaboration with Joe, creating ‘House of Rugby’ podcast through to developing a prediction game with MatchPint; Guinness has tapped into fans consciousness at every step of the journey. Each time in a way that adds value.
4. Don’t be afraid to have some fun
The rivalry on the pitch may be fierce but there’s a wonderful, social side to Six Nations. Something that Guinness has tapped into successfully. To coincide with the launch of the tournament they announced a new, (fictitious) product called ‘Guinness Clear’. Designed to promote responsible drinking, the product is, in fact, tap water. The stunt picked up plenty of PR coverage and the advert was complete with self-reverential nods to stereotypical beer advert tropes. Nailing the tone of voice and showing that the responsible drinking message needn’t be just a box ticking exercise.
5. Good Things Come to Those Who Wait
Just like pouring the perfect pint, Guinness understands that the brand storytelling exercise is about playing the long game. The big media assets weren’t contaminated with sales lead messages. But, price promotions in store and user-offers with the likes of MatchPint will no doubt drive sales. What Diageo do so well is use the right channels for the right messages.
Would the story of the Welsh brothers be so powerful with a ‘Now 8 cans for £8 at Morrisons’ tagline?
I’ve no idea how Guinness measure the success of this campaign but I’ve no doubt they’ll have robust metrics in place to show how it’s worked. And judging by the amount of fans drinking Guinness on the streets of Cardiff on Saturday, it could well make for good reading.
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