In the lead-up to the 2019 Rugby World Cup, as the official sponsor of the Irish Rugby team Vodafone needed to rise above the noise and bring to life its 'Team of Us' idea in a new and tangible way. With a large-scale campaign to activate the rugby sponsorship centered on the theme of inclusivity, the brand needed to engage fans in a way that would drive buzz outside of paid advertising. They needed an idea that could rally all of Ireland and ensure that everyone felt they were part of the 'Team of us'.
With the Rugby World Cup taking place in Japan, it was a challenge for most Irish fans to be physically there supporting the team. Through the use of bespoke technology we created a unique rugby ball imprinted with the fingerprints of the fans from around Ireland who traveled with the team to Tokyo – a unique way of connecting the fans to the team.
‘Ireland’s Ball’ is a unique rugby ball that celebrates the diverse fabric of modern Irish society, the inclusive nature of rugby, and its power to unite the people of Ireland. In partnership with Gilbert, we created a world-first ball grip that features the fingerprints of 32 people from 32 different counties in Ireland, all with their own unique link to the game we love. The stories were told in a series of online content videos as well as a vast number of print and online publications. Ireland’s Ball traveled to the world cup in Japan with the team as a symbol of the Team of Us support for Irish rugby from fans all across Ireland.
All the KPIs we set at the start of the campaign exceeded expectations. The campaign deeply engaged the Irish public, with Team Of Us mentions up 40% on social media during World Cup versus Six Nations.
The marketing industry voted Vodafone as Best Sponsor of the Rugby World Cup 2019 and Best Sports Sponsor of 2019. Padraig Power, IRFU commercial director, said: “The feedback towards the campaign has been incredibly positive and the team on Sunday would not be as good as it was without the lift it has gotten from it.”
According to ONSIDE 2019, Vodafone was the most admired sponsor in the week prior to RWC kick-off, as well as appealing sports sponsor and overall sponsor in Ireland for Q4 2019.