The Rugby World Cup is well and truly over, and while the Kiwis might have smashed it, both in glory and commercial interests, the lingering awkwardness that was Britain’s early exit still remains.
The sponsors of England, O2, Marriott Hotels and Heineken, have downplayed just how much commercial loss resulted from the country’s early exit from the Cup, although some reports say it was reduced by as much as 25 per cent.
The World Cup gathered a crap tonne of revenue for England’s economy – £1 billion of direct economic impact and £2.5 billion indirect in fact, according to the Rugby World Cup’s rights owners World Rugby.
And while brands choosing to be tournament sponsors rather than team sponsors ensures their value carries through to the finale, the ‘value’ was always going to be diminished when England got out of the competition, commercial director at sports media consultancy Stadia Solutions Andy Clilverd told Business Insider.
“They are the biggest draw in terms of TV audiences and therefore the sponsors will get less value from their TV facing advertising, perhaps by as much as 25 per cent. However, on the plus side, with the domestic UK TV audience being made up of England, Wales and Scotland – it could have been worse if all three were out.”
Brands tried to work a positive spin on their ads to maintain relevancy throughout the remainder of the tournament, such as Heineken, whose biggest concern was the lack of added beer sales among English viewers who were less likely to venture out to pubs to watch games.
“From a business perspective, we evaluate the success of our sponsorship based on the global impact on the Heineken brand. To this extent, we are already delighted with quality of the tournament and the excitement it has created in all participating markets,” premium brands director UK David Lette told BI.
And while Brand O2 activated heavily in the lead up to the Cup, the mobile network hailed the success of the Wear the Rose campaign, which has generated “5 million acts of support” since it launched in February 2015.
Sports marketing agency Fuse senior account director Mark Huckerby, however, told BI it was never a complete death sentence for British brands.
Huckerby said while “UK pubs, bars & rugby clubs will feel the financial impact of England fans staying at home”, the likes of Heineken and Coca-Cola were strong enough names to still benefit from their global deals as the tournament continued.
“It is about driving brand awareness and going far beyond the activation rights by employing creative and engaging activations that really connect with rugby fans and Marriott’s target audience,” Marriott International Europe vice president of brand marketing and ecommerce Osama Hirzalla added.