O2 on how it has turned its customers into rugby fans

O2 has renewed its partnership with the Rugby Football Union as it looks to make the sport a “huge part of its future”.

O2 has renewed its sponsorship of the Rugby Football Union (RFU) in a move that it says will feel “more like a partnership than a campaign”.

The 21-year-old deal will be extended by a further five seasons, which means that in total the company will have been the principle partner of England rugby for 25 years, making it one of the longest rugby sponsorships in the world.

O2 will be the lead partner for England Senior Men’s, England Women and England Saxons teams. Its logo will also continue to be placed on both match and training kits worn players.

The new deal has a “heavy focus” on digital technology, something the company says will “play a role in the fan experience”, as O2 aims to become more integrated in the rugby world by pushing more content and “personalised experiences” direct to its customer’s phones. It will also be looking at VR and the way it can be developed across different media.


The company will be pushing its partnership through other areas of the O2 brand. Pre-match content will be available through its priority app 48-hours before anywhere else, while behind-the-scenes and matchday digital content will be part of O2’s online series, O2 Inside Line. It is also giving its customers access to priority tickets for all England matches at Twickenham.

“We’ve been at the heart of the game since it turned professional in 1995. But this is much more than a campaign it is about the future of the partnership and the continuation of a fun partnership,” Nina Bibby, CMO at O2 told Marketing Week.

Creating new rugby fans

Bibby said that the partnership has moved on from its early days when it was focused on helping the brand generate awareness to being about helping O2 draw out brand consideration and customer experience.

“We know that customers and the general public who are aware of our involvement [in the partnership] have a higher brand consideration for us,” explains Bibby.

O2 also wants to continue to increase interest in rugby, something it promoted with its ‘Wear The Rose’ campaign around last year’s Rugby World Cup and which will be a “huge part of its future”.

READ MORE: How O2 plans to use its new marketing campaign to sweep England to victory

Bibby believes that raising the awareness of rugby is already working among O2’s customers. “It certainly seems to have worked on our own customer base. The number of our customers who are fans has increased substantially over the last year,” she said.

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