Rugby World Cup adverts: Scrum-ptious effort

The wait is finally over… The Rugby World Cup is on home soil and it could not be bigger! The 2015 RWC is set to be the most attended, viewed and socially engaged to date with over 4 billion viewers expected worldwide. The opportunity for brands could not be bigger. It has to be said, however, that in comparison to its footballing brother, the brand buzz surrounding the tournament has been lacklustre at best. Official worldwide sponsors Coca-Cola and Heineken are prime examples of this and haven’t created any memorable or stand-out content worthy of such an occasion.

Below I’ve looked in detail at the best (and worst) brand campaigns that have tried to capture the emotion and passion of what the RWC truly means.

1) “Make them Giants” – O2

A really beautiful piece of animation created by VCCP.

This two-minute spot sees the likes of Chris Robshaw, Mike Brown and Courtney Lawes become giants through the support of fans. The story is simple but the making the of ad was a lot more complex, beginning in March and requiring over 30 animators working across studios in the UK, the US and France. The ad was heavily influenced by the film “The Illusionist”, with some of the lead animators from the movie working on the spot. The animation was largely hand-drawn (), with the production team using traditional 2D cel animation techniques and creating over 6,500 frames. To ensure the film had a modern feel, the team used camera point projection, a CG technique, to create layouts and camera moves, which were then passed over to the digital matte painters as reference for their backgrounds.

With O2 the main sponsor, the onus was on them to create a memorable advert and they have succeeded very much so in doing this. They have also been able to bring out the true emotions of supporting a team through the use of the animation without it feeling childish or gimmicky. Great credit must be given to the production team for the time and effort they put into this short animation to capture these emotions throughout the spot.

The advert will play out online, on TV and in cinemas from the start of September, and will be followed by a series of 40-second ads that will show during the RWC in October.


2): “Never alone” and “The right path” – Guinness

While my love for Guinness may make me slightly biased, there is no doubt that these guys have produced some of most memorable adverts for years; “Made of Black” or “Surfer”, to name just two, have propelled them to iconic status in adworld, and their campaign for the Rugby World Cup doesn’t disappoint.

They have yet again come up trumps with two TV adverts from AMV BBDO that will run throughout the tournament. The stories follow former Welsh captain Gareth Thomas and Springbok Ashwin Willemse sharing the difficult decisions they had to face in the pursuit of their careers, (one about sexuality, the other about the influence of gangs), and how they were overcome with the support of their teams.

What stands out in both spots is the storytelling of these captivating tales. It is brilliant how two completely different stories highlight how real-life challenges can be overcome with the support of a team.

In contrast to typical sport-based advertisements, which tends to focus on the demanding physical nature of the game, both spots take us down an alternative path to make us realise that support and unity are the key elements to the reason for the love of rugby!

3):  “Kick it like Wilko” – IRB

This spot by the Organising Committee for the Rugby World Cup is something completely different from the first seclections. The advert is a brilliant, comical, light-hearted take on how hard it is to spot fake tickets.

The advert shows what looks like Jonny Wilkinson practising his kicking in a floodlit, empty stadium. But when he goes for the kick he trips over and is revealed to be a lookalike. Created to encourage fans to only buy official tickets for the Rugby World Cup, the ad cleverly ends with the strapline “It’s not always clear to spot a fake.”

I love the simplicity of the advert and how the message is instantly conveyed at the end of the spot. The metaphor of the fake player is a clever technique to make the advert unforgettable for the target audience.

4): “Men In Black Safety Defenders” – Air New Zealand

Now for the not so good…

The All Blacks star in Air New Zealand’s latest safety video: a spoof of the hit Nineties film Men in Black, made in partnership with Sony pictures. This can only be described in one way: an absolute cheese-fest!

Richie McCaw and Dan Carter play the suited agents, strutting in to meet Rip Torn and Frank the Pug (the stars of the real movie). They engage in some questionable dance moves while fullback Israel Dagg raps the in-flight briefing alongside Stan Walker. If things couldn’t get any weirder, we see a cameo appearance from Martin Jonson (England’s World Cup-winning captain) as a horned alien.

The whole advert is extremely cringe-worthy from start to finish and doesn’t evoke any of the true meaning or spirit of what the RWC means to such a passionate rugby-loving nation as New Zealand.  Also, the originality is questionable as it seems to be a rip-off of the highly successful Virgin America Safety Video.

Your thoughts?

So, do you agree with the analysis above? Are there any other adverts for the RWC that have stood out? And do you think enough has been made of the biggest sporting event in England since the 2012 London Olympics?



(featured image from:

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