Battle of the brands: What were the best RWC activations?

Event spoke to four agencies about the top brand activations that took place around the Rugby World Cup (RWC), with O2, Land Rover and Samsung coming out on top.

O2's light projection on the roof of its namesake venue formed part of the brand's RWC campaign
O2's light projection on the roof of its namesake venue formed part of the brand's RWC campaign


The telecommunications company was ranked among the best, with its Wear the Rose campaign encompassing activities such as a concert with Take That, a giant washing line series and iconic light projection on the roof of The O2.

Andrew Casher, head of experiential at Havas SE Cake, notes the campaign was ubiquitous and based around a simple objective.

"It was really well executed across a range of touch points from product to store, to advertising, social and experiential, all based on a simple call to action to get the nation behind the team, culminating in the send off event at the O2," he says.

"The hashtag was everywhere. This was a smart way of extending their Rugby Football Union (RFU) partnership into the RWC and making impact without having to acquire official status."

Casher adds the brand’s light projection at The O2 was similarly effective, describing it as "a nice execution."

Charlie Dundas, director of business development at GMR Marketing, believes the campaign was well thought out and delivered effectively. 

"Clearly the potential for an early exit of England must have been factored into their campaign planning, hence the heavyweight approach early on. They also gave themselves flexibility to subtly change some of the messaging in the ads to suit the actual situation. Typically smart work from O2," he says. 

The light projection in particular was a stand out for Andrew Douglass, chief executive at Innovision: "We’re familiar with using iconic buildings to project aspirational imagery – these are potent backdrops. This particular activation stood out amid the London skyline as a badge for the tournament and the nation."

Land Rover

Land Rover’s Trophy Tour, which travelled throughout the UK and Ireland for more than 100 days in the lead up to the tournament, struck a personal chord with Dundas.

"They brought the RWC trophy to my son’s rugby club and allowed all the kids in their different age groups to have their photo taken with the trophy. The access was amazing and needless to say, the excitement level across the whole club was immense," he recalls.

"The branding around the trophy and the use of a Land Rover to bring the trophy to the club was not lost on people there and given that the majority of parents of the kids are bang in the Land Rover target audience, I felt that this was a no-brainer activation, but a good one nonetheless."

Douglass explains Land Rover’s grass roots campaign was effective in that it resonated with rugby fans around the world. "Rugby certainly has its stars, but generally speaking there’s perhaps less of a focus on the individual and the unattainable areas of money and glamour.

"Brands that made a mark leveraged more approachable, audience-relevant subject matters; for instance rugby’s strength in the community, emphasised by Land Rover’s ‘We Deal in Real’ activations around grass roots rugby," he adds. 


Samsung’s School of Rugby content series, which included a 360-degree virtual reality experience, was a hit by virtue of its shareablity and humour. 

"Samsung’s campaign with Jack Whitehall, Johnno, Dallaglio and a number of other stars from around rugby had great content with genuine comedy and plenty of different executions," says Dundas.

"It was easily shareable, appealed to the rugby audience and represented a complete departure from the Samsung Galaxy XI advertising around the football World Cup last year. This felt authentic and targeted at the audience."

Douglass agrees that the series proved effective. "Samsung’s content was memorable, using Jack Whitehall and a raft of ex-players to broaden people’s understanding of the rules of the game with light-heartedness and comedy," he said.

"Samsung’s School of Rugby content series seemed to be shared in every one of my social feeds as well as on TV around every ITV game," adds Casher.


Tim Collins, managing director at Octagon believes AIG fared well during the tournament, particularly given it wasn’t an official partner.

"AIG found a way to build a campaign away from stadiums that was focused on its association with the All Blacks," he explains.

"The incredible access to players provided the insurance company the opportunity to engage three separate target audiences. The hospitality events provided something unique and special for customers with player appearances and Q&As, employees felt closer to the partnership through team events at AIG House at the OXO Tower, and PR opportunities with players drove awareness and association," he says. 

He adds: "The shared values between both partners provided AIG with a clear story and a relevance that was communicated to rugby fans through the Haka 360 virtual reality experience and fan engagement park on the South Bank."

More: Event TV: Backstage at O2's RWC activation with Projection Artworks

Five Rugby World Cup activations

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