Lessons from the Lions Tour

It started with mutterings over being too commercially driven and asking too much of the players in a gruelling schedule of matches.  It dipped when Warren Gatland brought in replacements based on geography and was accused of devaluing the Lions.  It soared when the Lions bounced back to secure the second test and it ended on Saturday morning with a drawn series and a twelve year wait to sort out ‘ unfinished business.’

This morning we take a look at a number of themes to emerge from the commercial side of the Tour…

Pitch Promotion

It is the case that the southern hemisphere is more inclined towards multiple sponsor messages on the pitch and the test match surfaces were a patchwork of painted brands for the key sponsors of the tour.

DHL and the lock up logo for the series featured centrally but was surrounded by plenty more as can be seen in the photograph above.

Live LED boards have become the norm at major stadia now and the search for ‘stand out’ references is moving to the pitch where TV camera angles cannot fail to pick up the branding for companies who have invested major sums like Standard Life and Adidas.

Breakfast Time

We have grown used to the major beer brands like Guinness and heineken recouping some of their brand investment in sport by having pub based gatherings to watch the biggest sporting occasions and perhaps have a pint or two at the same time.

The early morning schedule in New Zealand meant that all the games on tour were taking place outside of traditional licensed premises opening times.

Many pubs still did open to allow fans gather and watch but the strongest beverage on sale was coffee and it was the breakfast rolls that were keeping the tills ringing.

It was a sign of things to come with the 2019 Rugby World Cup taking place in Japan where prime time match kick off times will be on at around 11.30AM Irish Time and afternoon matches at around 8am

AIG Top of the Class

AIG are the principal sponsor of the All Blacks and were always going to play a prominent role but a couple of their activations really stood out.

LED screens in the rainbow colours of the LGBT movement stood out during test matches and on Saturday with the simple message of Insurance Equality.

Putting such a specific statement of support for an active and financially well off group will doubtless yield a solid return.

At a local level in Ireland supporting a tour to the series by leading rugby school Blackrock College generated substantial coverage on social and in mainstream media here and given the demographic profile of the children and parents involved is another niche winner for the brand.  Releasing video content of training sessions where the college team was wearing branded shirts in their own school colours reiterated the message in a powerful visual way.

Sport for Business works with over 220 of Ireland’s leading organisations in sport and business.  We regularly feature in depth looks at how members like AIG, Allianz, Littlewoods Ireland, Lifestyle Sports and most of Ireland’s leading sporting organisations bring the relationship between sport and business to life. Here is a look at what we do…


Find out more about our next major event looking at the impact of Sport for Social Good in September 2017.


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