Heineken to push 50% of marketing budget into Rugby World Cup sponsorship

Heineken UK is investing nearly half of the master brand’s budget in this year’s Rugby World Cup in an effort to maintain its recent sales momentum and dial up its association with ‘world class events’.

The company’s half-year results for 2015, released yesterday (3 August), show group revenue increased by 2% organically, with a 0.9% increase in total volume.

It credited its focus on innovation as well as a successful UEFA Champions League campaign. It plans to build on the growth in the second half of the year through a partnership with the upcoming James Bond film, a continuation of its “Cities” campaign, festive programmes and its 20th year of sponsoring the Rugby World Cup.

Rugby World Cup sponsorship

The brand has launched a multi-channel Rugby World Cup campaign titled “It’s Your Call” with a TV commercial starring rugby legends Jonah Lomu and John Smit as well as OOH, print, PR, social and digital activity in order to target the 4.5 billion people who will watch the tournament globally.

It is also giving fans the chance to attend the coin toss at the start of each of the tournament’s 48 games through a variety of contests including a “golden bottle” pack promotion, a Web Ellis Cup Trophy Tour and “other stunts that will take place in the UK and around the world”.

David Lette, premium brands director for Heineken UK, told Marketing Week: “Champions League has enhanced our learnings on how our fans want to engage and how we as a beer brand can enhance that experience and give consumers something back.”

He said that the main thing the brand has learned is that consumers want to be involved with the game, adding that consumers no longer watch rugby on a single screen and are also using their phones and iPads to tweet and use Facebook during a game.

“The key things for us is how we drive the association in a unique and experiential way for consumers,” he said, adding that the brand wants to target “armchair fans” to enhance their experience.

Experiences, not just sponsorship


In order to continue the success of Heineken’s Share the Sofa campaign which allowed fans to tweet at famous football players during Champions League matches, Heineken is launching a Heineken Rugby Studio at Twickenham which will see the likes of former England captain Will Carling host preview and review shows during eight World Cup games.

The videos, which will also feature UK and international celebrities as well as the winners of the coin toss competitions, will be launched across Heineken’s digital and social channels.

“Rugby Studio is a show we can bring live through social and digital with snippets that happen before, during and after the game,” Lette said.

He added that consumers will be able to live tweet at the rugby “legends” hosting the show to ask questions, giving fans “a chance to engage in a way they haven’t before”.

“We aim to not just sponsor events but give a fantastic experience back to consumers and fans,” he said, adding that after the World Cup the brand will gain insight to use in next year’s Champions League season.

“It’s our way of really enhancing the experience and the second screen knowledge that we’ve built up over the years.”

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