O2 rugby ad

O2, the official sponsor of English rugby, launched the big budget animated campaign during the 2015 Rugby World Cup in a bid to unite fans and propel England to success. But after the host nation England failed to progress beyond the group stage, the major investment, which included changing its shop fronts to promote a logo including England’s rose emblem, was widely mocked.

Griffiths, however, says the brand isn’t concerned by the criticism, with the brand always planning to run the campaign beyond the tournament.

“We always wanted something that would last up to four years. Wear The Rose is a huge part of our future.”

Gareth Griffiths, head of sponsorship, O2

“It’s the most successful digital campaign we’ve ever run and according to Twitter we had 67% share of voice for the whole tournament due to the #weartherose hashtag. Those numbers speak for themselves. We feel the ‘Wear the Rose’ slogan has now become vernacular for supporters and the players,” he told Marketing Week.

During the Rugby World Cup, O2 asked fans to pledge their support through a “totaliser” on its website and Griffiths says it attracted 5.4 million fans, which has subsequently increased its social communications base and also had a “direct impact” on higher footfall in its shops.

“The last Rugby World Cup England won was in 2003, we’re used to England not winning everything by now – that’s the nature of sports sponsorship,” he added. “People expected us to have egg on our faces, but we’re hugely proud of what we achieved with Wear The Rose.”

Over the course of the RBS 6 Nations, which kicks off on Saturday (6 February), O2’s latest Wear The Rose activity will include presenter Vernon hosting the online ‘O2 Inside Line’ show, which will blend behind the scenes footage with exclusive interviews.

O2 6 Nations

To further boost fan engagement, O2 will also get award-winning photographer Jim Fiscus to take a series of fan photos, with the best four appearing on banners around Twickenham during England’s first home game of the 6 Nations.

Griffiths claims the O2 brand has never had a “stronger” connection with rugby fans going into the 6 Nations.

He concluded: “The UK hosting the Rugby World Cup has turned people onto rugby into a big way and that has only benefited our sponsorship.”

Last year our 6 Nations O2 priority tickets sold out in 45 minutes, this year they were gone in under a minute. Our relationship with the fans has never been stronger and there’s a lot of momentum for rugby across 2016.”

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