O2 focuses on rugby as it mulls Arsenal ties

O2 is to focus the bulk of its sponsorship marketing activity on rugby this year as it reviews its football ties with Arsenal.

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O2 is readying a major marketing campaign to support the England team during the 2011 Rugby World Cup, dubbed “Get Up For England”, which will see 90,000 specially created breakfast packs sent out to customers.

The packs are designed as an accompaniment to watching the New Zealand tournament, which will be televised in the UK in the mornings. They will contain two Pieminster breakfast pies, two Greene King IPA beers, an England flag and a message from the team.

The campaign will also include a TV ad featuring eight England players, print activity, a mobile app and a partnership with the official radio broadcaster of the tournament TalkSport.

Nic Fletcher, O2’s head of sports sponsorship, says the company is taking advantage of the increased appetite for rugby in recent years with attendance at matches increasing, more content on television and growing participation for the sport, boosted by O2’s Touch Rugby scheme.

O2 has been a sponsor of the England rugby team since 1995.

Fletcher adds: “Our rugby sponsorship is about mobilising the England fanbase and doing it in a unique and fun way. It is at the heart of our strategy to reward our customers. There have been lots of unsavoury football news articles recently, but that is not in the same degree in rugby and the traditional values it stands for.”

O2 is currently “looking whether to continue” its sponsorship of Arsenal Football Club, as it enters the final year of its original ten-year contract agreement.

Arsenal has suffered a torrid start to the football season this year and the club has not won a major trophy since 2005.

Fletcher says: “Arsenal is no lesser a club than it was five years ago. The team’s style and quality are still appealing to our brands and other brands and they have continued to acquire lots of new sponsors and partners in the last few months.”

O2 will continue to run its Priority ticketing activity and monetising its sponsorship through acquiring Arsenal fans as customers this season. He says other new Arsenal “technologies” and competitions will be rolled out in the coming months.

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