The Rugby World Cup 2019 represents the absolute pinnacle of the sport. Held once every four years, and watched by millions around the globe, it’s a unique opportunity to grow audiences and build interest in the game. We collaborated with England Rugby to produce a campaign that could do just that, and get the entire nation behind the team.
How do you engage an entire nation?
The brief required us to create a player-led campaign that would appeal to a wide-ranging audience, including everyone from rugby fanatics to families. It had to instil a sense of pride in the team throughout the entire nation.
To build and encourage participation in the sport, we needed to ensure the campaign would appeal to younger audiences. The main touch points would be England Rugby’s owned digital channels, therefore any content produced had to engage audiences and stand out amongst the visual noise of social media feeds.
One of your own
The squad is made up of young players from across the country, almost every region is represented. We wanted to use this idea as a vehicle to get the whole of England behind the team, and make the population feel like the players are one of their own.
We also wanted to tell the personal stories of each player, and document their journey from schoolboy rugby to representing their country at a World Cup.
With Japan as the host nation, we had a rich world to play with visually and conceptually. The campaign was entitled ‘Rising Sons’, playing on the commonly used description of Japan as ‘the land of the rising sun’. The idea aimed to position the players as ‘sons’ of England, uniting the country to support the team.
Rugby World Cup vs World of Manga
The look and feel of the campaign was centred around the visual world of manga. Our creative approach referenced the typography and energetic graphic bursts found in manga artwork. We worked with Alex Arizmendi to illustrate members of the squad. This also provided the players with assets they could use on their own social media.
Stand-out campaign, consistent identity
While we wanted the campaign to stand out and engage new audiences, we also wanted it to reflect the brand identity we had created for England Rugby. Therefore, we adapted the ‘timeline' device into linear frames derived from graphic novels. The brand typefaces were retained, but tweaked to include textures and outlines that referenced the manga look and feel. We also expanded the colour palette to include two fluorescent accent colours, inspired by the bright neon lights of Tokyo.
The journey to Japan
We wanted the audience to feel part of the team's journey to the World Cup, from the preparation and build-up, to arriving in Japan and following the team's progress. The campaign was launched at Japan House in July as part of the initial training squad announcement. When the final squad announcement was made, we created content that highlighted the local club each player represented at junior level. The locations of each group game were also featured, showing the itinerary of the players’ time in Japan.
As the team progressed to the knockout phase of the competition, we had to quickly produce assets ahead of the next fixture. We created a series of short animations for the quarter-final, semi-final and the final itself, to build excitement and anticipation across the nation.
Behind the team and behind-the-scenes
We wanted to use the interest generated by the tournament as a way of appealing to the grassroots of the sport. Participation and interest in local clubs was encouraged by organising ‘watch parties’ at clubhouses across the country for each game. We created digital typographic stickers which enabled fans to document and personalise their experience of viewing each match.
To bring fans closer to the squad, England Rugby produced a ‘Rising Sons’ series. Each episode featured behind-the-scenes content from the training ground and game days, showing the players and coaching staff as they have rarely been seen before.
The campaign creative was rolled out across a wide range of touch points, from Facebook profile picture frames to the office interiors of Rugby House at Twickenham.