Specsavers, an official partner of the Rugby League World Cup (RLWC), has begun activating its sponsorship of the tournament’s match officials across multiple platforms ranging from a ref and player fronted launch event, traditional PR, online video, in-store work and a ticket competition in partnership with local media brands.
The official sponsorship press launch was fronted by Super League referees Ben Thaler, Tim Roby and Phil Bentham who unveiled the new tournament officials kit at Salford’s MediaCityUK.
They were accompanied by a full set of home nations league players: Ben Kavanagh (Scotland), Lloyd White (Wales), Tyrone McCarthy (Ireland) and Jon Wilkin (England).
A behind-the-scenes video was seeded on Specsavers’ YouTube site to further support the launch.
The optical brand’s fairly traditional rights package will see its logo not only appear on the front of the competition’s new match officials’ kit, but also stamped across on-field metre markers and corner posts, as well as perimeter board branding, programme space and an online presence across RLWC digital assets.
The sponsor is also running joint media partnerships with local press to giveaway tournament tickets.
For example, Specsavers stores in Bristol last week teamed up with the Bristol Post to offer eight readers a pair of tickets for the Opening Ceremony and first two matches at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium.
The simple competition mechanic asks consumers to just email name and contact details by 24 October and the winners will be the first eight eligible names drawn at random.
It is perhaps the conceptual tactic of marketing around referees, an ongoing Specsavers approach, that is more innovative than the actual rights package or the RLWC activation to date.
The brand’s work leverages the classic spectators’ critical cries and complaints about refs needing glasses that is prevalent across so many sports.
This is part of Specsavers ongoing marketing strategy from sponsorship to advertising.
For example, it sponsored the match officials during the recent British and Irish Lions rugby union tour of Australia and activated through a brand ambassador programme with exx players such as Richard Hill and former referees such as Gordon Bray,
as well as print and TV advertising work.
The brand also partners the RaboDirect PRO12 rugby league.
Beyond rugby it also has sponsorship deals with Scottish Football Association match officials (which spans 11 years has helped train 2,500 match officials), the Irish Ladies GAA in the Republic of Ireland and in March 2013 it signed a referee-led partnership with Australia’s Victory League.
All of this sponsorship work supports the brand’s central humour-led marketing ‘Should Have Gone To Specsavers’ creative big idea used across its main advertising work.
‘Good eyesight is clearly very important in competitive sport. While exciting technological innovations are on hand to aid match officials, they will always rely on their personal judgements too,’ says Specsavers marketing director Richard Holmes.
‘This sponsorship builds on our existing sporting pledge, helping the experts to see in sport and at Specsavers we’re glad to do our bit and offer them the best support possible,’ he adds.
‘It is fantastic news to welcome Specsavers as a partner of Rugby League World Cup 2013,’ comments Rugby League World Cup 2013 tournament general manager Sally Bolton. ‘They are a perfect match for sponsorship of the RLWC2013 match officials. We are excited about making the most of the partnership as we continue to the countdown to Rugby League World Cup 2013.’
The tournament itself, which features all the world’s top rugby league nations, is being held jointly in England and Wales and kicks off on 26 October when England take on Australia in Cardiff.
Some market watchers have claimed that marketing around the tournament has been something of a slow burner.
Certainly, it can be argued the RLWC rights owner’s own #BeThere campaign has been somewhat low key beyond the sport’s ‘Yorkshire/Lancashire/Cumbria’ English heartland (admittedly, a long running English rugby league debating point).
While other sponsors – ranging from official vehicle supplier Hertz (which sponsored the Trophy Tour and is supplying 16 liveried team vans), hotel giant Marriot (with its #The5thtackle ticket initiative) and official online fashion retailer GetTheLabel.com –
all have the challenge of not only cutting through the marketing clutter around the end of the Super League season, but also the unenviable task of activating during the early days of the Premier League marketing juggernaut, as well as the final FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
Specsavers RLWC Website
Marriot #5thTackle Facebook Page