Guinness celebrates Japan's female rugby heroes in World Cup film

Guinness adds to the 'Made of more' campaign ahead of this year's Rugby World Cup.

With the Rugby World Cup set to dominate the sporting world next month, Guinness has unveiled its latest cinematic spot, "Liberty Fields", detailing the trials and tribulations of Japan’s first international female rugby squad.

With no coach, no doctor and virtually no support, the team defied the social conventions of 1989 Tokyo to represent their country at the Women’s World Cup.

The TV ad, which debuts this evening, has been launched alongside a five-minute documentary featuring first-hand insights from the Liberty Fields rugby team.

They work was created by Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, written by Alex Grieve, art directed by Adrian Rossi and directed by Eliot Rausch through Stink Films. The media agency is Carat.

Speaking of her experiences on the pitch, Ms Kishida of the Liberty Fields team said: "It was back in the day, when getting harassed, sexually and otherwise, was a given. 

"Men expected women to be young, pretty and willing to quit their jobs for marriage. At the time, the women’s team weren’t recognised as official. So, we founded our own organisation."

She continued: "We lose if women can’t play rugby. The reason why we’ve kept on going is because we don’t want to lose. I wanted society to accept that women can love this kind of sport too, not just men."

The spot was launched as part of the brand’s long-running "Made of more" campaign, which has been promoting inclusivity within rugby since 2014. 

Niall Mckee, head of Guinness Stout Europe at Diageo, maintained the story of Liberty Fields is testament to Guinness’ brand history as proud Irish storytellers.

"We found the story of Liberty Fields and felt it captured the 'Made of more' campaign brilliantly. It was really relevant for what’s going on in the world at the moment, especially in light of this year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan.

"It felt like a really natural, authentic story for Guinness to be able to tell in that context," he continued.

According to Mckee, the brand’s "Made of more" construct is about championing real people around the globe who acted with extraordinary integrity and character to enrich the world around them.

For example, while 2014’s "Shane" details the defiant rise of Welsh rugby player Shane Williams, who was told he was too short to play the sport, "The purse" follows the adventures of three brothers who spend their late mum’s remaining money on the Six Nations, as per her wishes.

Championing change

As well as the title sponsor and the official beer of the Guinness Six Nations, the brand was also named the first commercial partner of the Women’s Six Nations at the end of last year. 

In an effort to enhance the experience of the women’s game, the brand launched its first rugby-specific spot, "Sisters", which followed the on-pitch rivalry between the Millar-Mills sisters who went head-to-head while representing England and Scotland in the 2013 Women’s Six Nations.

Guinness has also increased provision of match day information around the stadium, and enhanced pre-game entertainment including music and pyrotechnics. 

The campaign’s steps towards openness and diversity in rugby can be sourced back to 2015’s "Never alone" ad, which highlighted the emotional hardships of the sport’s first openly gay player, Gareth Thomas.

The brand has since been named a partner of Dublin’s Union Cup – Europe’s biggest LGBT+ inclusive rugby tournament – going as far as to paint the factory’s iconic St James’ Gate to reflect the tournament’s rainbow colours.

However, Mckee noted that while Guinness has taken progressive steps in the past six months, there are still more steps to be taken towards equality in rugby.

"There are huge strides that us and the sport can take, and in the coming years we’re going to be partnering much more closely with the game to go on the journey with women’s rugby and tackle some of the challenges the sport faces," he said.

English International rugby player Danielle ‘Nolli’ Waterman has hailed the brand's latest spot for "celebrating women as pioneers".

The Wasps Ladies fullback explained: "While 2019 has been an incredible year for women’s sport, there are still plenty of barriers to overcome both within sport and more widely. Much of the ‘Liberty Fields’ story still rings true with me today. 

"However," she continued, "it is incredible to have this story shared because talking about, and celebrating, women as pioneers can really make a difference. How we approach and embed inclusivity and diversity is key to future success."

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