Volkswagen has kicked off a new focus to its long-term partnership with the IRFU and the focus is very firmly on the fans.
The brand has been involved with the Union since 2011 and 2018 is the second year of a five year extension which will bring them through to 2021.
The extension also covers a partnership with Rugby Players Ireland and Mike McCarthy and Malcolm O’Kelly were on hand to help launch the new ‘Road to Rugby’ Campaign at the Aviva Stadium yesterday.
Sport for Business caught up with Volkswagen’s Head of Marketing Mark McGrath who talked us through the positioning of the campaign.
“We are part of a broad suite of commercial partners working alongside the IRFU and the Irish team and we wanted to identify an area that we could really make a mark in.”
“Vodafone is focused on the team, Ulster Bank on community, Aer Lingus on Home Advantage and Aldi on youth.”
“Working with our agencies, Owens DDB and Legacy among them, we identified the fans as a crucial part of the Irish rugby story that we could help to amplify.”
“We looked at how other brands, including 3 in Ireland with the soccer team, had connected to the Fan experience and we have introduced a number of twists and activations that we believe will forge a strong association between Volkswagen and the team.”
The first examples of this could be seen in TV3’s coverage last Saturday where the tongue in cheek suggestion was that with Volkswagen staff being such big fans, game time was probably not the best time to be going looking to buy a new car.
The ad was backed up by insertions in the Irish Times suggesting that the showrooms would be closed during the time of the match, not strictly true but generating favourable social media buzz around the idea.
“This is the first time that Volkswagen Ireland has made a sponsorship asset as opposed to product or service the hero of our advertising and that is a measure of our commitment to this campaign,” added McGrath.
“We will be very evident with it throughout the 6 Nations and then again in the Autumn and we will also be producing an imaginative content series, combining players and fans during the summer tour period.”
That will be an important sales period for the brand, making sponsorship work as a sales as well as brand driver and it looks likely to be a winner.
A new ‘Volkswagen Fan TV’ Tiguan Allspace (pictured above) will be at the Aviva Stadium for all of Ireland’s games throughout the NatWest 6 Nations. Volkswagen Fan TV will give fans the chance to showcase their support for Joe Schmidt’s side and capture the views and stories of the Irish rugby fans. All of the videos will be hosted on a new Rugby hub at Volkswagen.ie.
The sponsorship deal extends the brand’s long-term association with the IRFU and Rugby Players Ireland and will also see the car manufacturer continue to support the IRFU tag rugby competitions across Ireland.
Joe Schmidt is driving a new Volkswagen as part of the deal and individual relationships through the Volkswagen Dealer network are also in place with Conor murray and CJ Stander.
It will be an interesting campaign to follow through the season.
Image Credit: Sam Barnes, Sportsfile