IBM’s ITV RWC Sponsorship Multi-Platform Stat Strat


IBM has activated its right as sole sponsor of ITV’s coverage of the Rugby World Cup in the UK is dominated a set of idents with messaging based on the tech brand’s ‘Smarter planet’ positioning.


Each bumper, sandwiching all ITV ad breaks from rugby coverage through the tournament, features an odd rugby couple swapping rugby-related statistics. The takeaway being that rugby is a game where smart decisions based on statistics win games, just as IBM data analytics makes for smarter business outcomes.


By bringing the idea of unexpectedly smart conversations to the campaign, the sponsor hopes it will help consumers associate IBM data analytics. But whether this mass consumer vehicle is the most economical way to connect with IBM’s senior business decision maker target group remains to be seen.


Ogilvy & Mather’s creative features on all ITV match and highlights broadcasts, as well as having online and mobile presence and a supporting website. Rugby fans can also enter a free prize draw to win signed Rugby World Cup balls and IBM goody bags.


One of the key challenges for both broadcaster and sponsor – and all other advertisers associated with the 2011 Rugby World Cup is to meet the challenge presented by the unsociable hours at which the live games take place.


ITV and IBM have taken several steps towards solutions by reaching out to rugby fans both at the office and on mobile, as well as prime time, on-demand and out-of-home highlights.


For example, IBM and ITV have combined on a Live Stream iPhone app which also offers highlights of every game and on offering every match on ITV.com alongside a live fan chat.


In another attempt to combat the time challenge, ITV and Kinetic ran a tactical out-of-home campaign to allow UK commuters to see Rugby World Cup updates from overnight and in the morning.


Created by BBH, the campaign integrates real-time match scores and commentary to keep fans up to date on England’s progress during the Rugby World Cup and reminds them to watch it live or catch up later on ITV1 HD, ITV.com or on the ITV Rugby iPhone App. The updates are being shown through to a network of digital screens in rail termini, underground stations, airport business lounges, petrol forecourts, roadside billboards and the Reuters screen at Canary Wharf.




Engaging and brand relevant, or annoying and repetitive – it’ll be up to the viewers to decide.


This integrated ident presence spans not just live games, but the media brands’ ongoing online presence and its highlights shows – thus minimising the problems associated with a global event who’s live matches take place in the very early hours of the morning for UK viewers.


Of course, it will be interesting to see how these technology platforms work smoothly straight out off the gate.


For IBM, this adds rugby to its existing four Grand Slam tennis sponsorship programme. The deal offers IBM an opportunity to associate with the event despite the strict IRB rules about non tournament sponsor presence. And it certainly does ITV no harm to have such a prestigious and credible brand on board.


Perhaps this kind of credible partnership bodes well for ITVs future World Cup coverage?














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