Land Rover goes grassroots for Rugby World Cup sponsorship

SQN CEO Claire Ritchie @MsRichTea discusses how sponsorship is about more than just putting two entities together – it’s about matching brand attributes and a common vision to create win-win partnerships. 

I was pleased to read the recent news of Jaguar Land Rover (JLR)’s sponsorship of the Rugby World Cup (RWC), which the auto manufacturer is already claiming to be its biggest sponsorship deal ever.

The campaign will take a grassroots focus and address a variety of 11 amateur rugby clubs, which no doubt have inspirational stories to tell, as JLR addresses the “everyman” in the latest iteration of its rugby support.

Addressing grassroots is often a key element of successful sports campaigns, as the average consumer can be insensitive to advertisements that focus only on the glitz and glamour at the peak of a sport. It is more effective to focus on the real people at the foundations of a sport and works especially well in this case, with a sport so tough and rugged that generally takes a back seat to the nation’s favourite, football.

The success behind a sponsor and property partnership is in their suitability for one another – anyone can join two entities but real success in sponsorship comes in finding cohesion between a pair that is mutually beneficial, providing a win-win scenario.

“The reason rugby works so perfectly for Land Rover is that it’s about shared values,” says Laura Schwab, UK marketing director at Jaguar Land Rover. “The qualities that we talk about with Land Rover – authenticity, integrity, composure, capability – all work in conjunction with rugby.” This alignment of brand values between JLR and RWC will bring unsung heroes to the screens of the 18 countries in which the campaign will play out.

Not only does their sponsorship cross cultural boundaries with the global spread of their featured clubs – JLR will cross generational gaps too, enlisting 96 young mascots from each amateur club and competing nation. JLR will surely add this to their focus when following on from their rousing introductory campaign video, emphasising rugby’s inclusivity as the tournament unfolds.
It will be fascinating to watch the partnership play out alongside the telling of authentic underdog club stories across our television screens. We already know about the power of sports sponsorship in growing brand awareness and indeed the brands themselves, but JLR’s “We Deal in Real” campaign will show that the importance lies in attribute matching within these partnerships.

Fans can detect when the essence behind something is authentic, and a small deal between cohesive entities can generate a far more powerful response than a seven-figure mismatch.