6 Nations 2016: Year of the Brands?

This year, broadcasting of the 6 Nations is a little different as the BBC and ITV both have broadcasting rights. This means that each broadcaster will be airing seven or eight matches apiece; the BBC will be showing the home matches of Wales, Scotland and France, and ITV will be airing England, Ireland and Italy home matches.
It may not sound like a huge deal, but ITV airing half of the matches this year has opened up plenty of opportunities for brands to get themselves in front of the rather large and premium rugby audience. The hype for the World Cup has not long passed since it was hosted by England last year (earning the highest attendance rates in history and increasing UK rugby interest by 39%), and the 6 Nations is always much anticipated, as the greats of the Northern Hemisphere battle it out. The BBC is placing huge emphasis on its digital offerings this year, and battling with ITV for viewers’ attention the broadcaster is providing online highlights and also covering the matches on Radio 5.
There has been some talk around whether the sponsorships will be somewhat diluted due to the half time advertisements that will be shown on ITV. We’re not sure whether the sponsors have to worry all that much, especially if they continue creating the result generating campaigns like the ones we saw during the World Cup.
Robert Staines from Campaign Live said the income of a 6 Nations fan is 20% higher than UK average, which makes them the most affluent group of any popular sport; this is an extremely good thing for brands who have their sights set on this particular demographic.
02, who sponsor the England team, went all out during the World Cup with their TV adverts and digital campaigns across social and according to their Head of Sponsorship, 02 saw a large increase in interest surrounding its rugby activity since the World Cup, making the 6 Nations a very enticing prospect. Continuing with their ‘Wear the Rose’ campaign from the World Cup, 02 said that even though England weren’t successful they noticed the strength of the fans and aim to celebrate that through their 6 Nations campaign.

Focusing solely on digital marketing, media partnerships and out-of-home marketing, 02 have decided to stay away from TV for the 6 Nations by bringing consumers features like their behind the scenes online show which includes podcasts and Instagram activity. It’s not just 02 who are focusing all their efforts on digital though, as Guinness who also ran a high profile TV ad during the world cup have decided digital will be their main priority for the 6 Nations.
What should brands be doing to target these avid rugby fans?
With 8 in 10 rugby fans using their smartphone before kick off, and 55% second screen watching throughout the match, mobile offers great opportunity for brands to reach their audience. For instance, ITV are already taking advantage of this through their programmatic offering, as Robert Staines describes how when a ‘TV ad airs, a similar digital ad can be served to multiple connected devices with a similar profile to the TV audience in terms of socio-demographics and geography’.
02 realised that with millions of people using their apps, tracking downloads and engagement rates within their apps is very important, and with this gathered data they then use programmatic advertising for their real time campaigns. All users want to see things that are relevant to them, and by analysing their profiles through the gathered data, more precise targeting can be achieved, leading to these users receiving content that is catered specifically for them.
In app advertising, social media advertising, user generated content and brand generated content are all effective ways of targeting and engaging audiences as well, especially as 43% of fans engage in 6 Nations related content online and the average rugby fan household has 4.6 connected devices, whether that be smart TV, smartphone, tablet or wearable tech.
Rugby Mock Up
Staines also discusses ‘dark social’ in his article, where he says that 77% of the content shared online by rugby fans is outside of social media via channels that are unmeasurable in web analytics such as email links, forums and instant messaging platforms (which are continuing to increase in popularity). How can you access this dark side of social you ask? Sharing tools that are often seen on online articles are a great way to measure activity, such as social links and URL shorteners. We’re not saying you’ll capture all the data there is, but it’s definitely better than doing nothing.
Econsultancy posted the social media following of each nation last week, and we thought we’d share them with you because let’s face it we’re a bit competitive! England are way out in front with nearly 2.5 million, followed not so closely by Ireland with just over 1 million and then Italy has the smallest amount of followers with just under 330,000.
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Marketing Week

Written by Shannon May