To mark the launch of the official British & Irish Lions app, Vodafone have announced a new ‘Digital Lions’ initiative that will allow rugby fans to virtually become a British and Irish Lion for the first time ever.
It is a move that will play well with the gaming generation and has been developed in partnership with the team behind Fortnite and FIFA’s gaming services.
The fully animated virtual avatar tool should be fun to play around with and will provide fans with new and innovative ways to engage with the Lions. It will include the ability to interact both with each other and with Lions players past and present.
Paul O’Connell has been announced as an official Vodafone British & Irish Lions ambassador for the upcoming Tour in South Africa. O’Connell was captain of the Lions when they last toured South Africa in 2009, one of his three tours.
The animations for the Digital Lions are based on the movements of real Lions’ legends like O’Connell who was accompanied by fellow Lions ambassadors – Sam Warburton, Sir Ian McGeechan and Jeremy Guscott – during an all-action motion capture day to record their own unique gestures for the avatars.
You can only imagine that the ‘Fear of God’ will be reborn for a new generation of fans.
The avatars can be created in both the female and male form, will be able to use those movements throughout the season, giving fans the chance to jump like O’Connell, tackle like Warburton, and kick like Guscott.
The app will also provide the latest news, fixtures, ticket offers, merchandise and interactive fan experiences, all in one place.
Other features include the ‘Team Selector’ which lets users choose their own starting line-up as well as their ‘Ultimate Legends’ team, that they can share on social media and messaging platforms as they compare their dream team with friends and other fans.
New features will be added over the coming months including the chance to pose with legendary ex-Lions players in augmented reality (AR), the chance to take part in in-app games which will see them dodging players and equipment against the clock, as well as the opportunity to unlock tickets and merchandise.
Next year, when the games are being played, the ambition is for the app to act as an ‘AR porthole’ so fans’ ‘Digital Lion’ gets a first-person view of all the action in South Africa, from the comfort of their own home.
The app’s ‘Match Centre’ feature will provide live updates on all Lions news from info on the games being played to scores, scorers, team and match stats.
“We are so proud of our partnership with the British and Irish Lions and of being able to bring our technology experience to the 2021 Tour, uniting everyone behind this iconic team and jersey,” said Anne O’Leary, Vodafone CEO.
“Our ambition at Vodafone is to ensure that we deliver cutting edge technology that keeps our customers, their families, friends and businesses connected and our focus with the Lions is to deliver the most immersive, connected tour ever for rugby fans.”
“We are hugely excited about the creation of the ‘Digital Lion’ Initiative, where fans can now create their own Digital Lion using innovation technologies, encompassing motion capture and augmented reality.”
“We have also secured a world first for sport by recreating some of rugby’s iconic archive imagery using the latest AI and machine learning technology. We are looking forward now to the build-up the 2021 Tour and using the power of connectivity to give fans the best ever experience.”
This really does promise to be right up there as one of the activations of the year, even up against the Euro’s and the Olympic Games.
The full programme will be designed to deliver on the partnership ambition of Connected by Vodafone. United Behind the Lions, Unlimited Together.
“This highly innovative app, which features cutting-edge fan engagement functionality will further complement our digital channels, allowing fans to interact with the Lions in new and exciting ways,” said Ben Calveley, Managing Director, British & Irish Lions.
“We have already seen record engagement numbers across our social media channels this year, and we look forward to continuing to deliver best-in-class digital content to Lions supporters all over the world.”
Sport for Business Partners