RWC 2015: A Ground-Breaking Tournament for Synergy

1. The Greatest Shirt Never Seen Artwork

Rugby World Cup 2015 has been standout for Synergy: the brands we've worked with, the campaigns we've helped create and the ground we've broken through our activation. Anyone would be proud to share the work we've done with our clients, with some of our major RWC highlights including... Canterbury.

Canterbury’s RWC business goals were simple: reinforce the brand’s commitment to rugby, and to deliver its most innovative and commercially successful shirt launch. Bringing to life the campaign message of “Committed to the Rose”, we focussed on inspiring consumers to demonstrate their commitment and be rewarded for this in a truly innovative, immersive and participative campaign, which, critically, drove purchase consideration.

We exploited the ‘pre-sale’ window by releasing an exclusive silhouetted image of the shirt, inviting fans to display commitment by purchasing ‘The Greatest Shirt Never Seen’. As an incentive, all fans who signed up had the chance to physically unveil the shirt on launch day (more on that later…). Using Thunderclap, fans were also asked to ‘Click to Commit’, which meant they automatically released images of the new shirt on their social media platforms an hour before the official media reveal.

The digital launch drove over 3,500 sign-ups with a combined reach of 1.9 million.

On top of this, three lucky fans were then surprised with the ultimate test of their commitment to the rose, when given the chance to quite literally ‘launch’ the shirt via a 12,500-foot parachute jump. Following their safe return to terra firma, the fans were greeted by three England players, with the subsequent video content viewed by more than 600,000 people.
Canterbury kept up the momentum post-launch by releasing the ‘Co-ordinates of Commitment’, revealing the locations across the country of crates (also dropped by air) containing Canterbury shirts. If successful with commitment-based social challenges, fans were rewarded with the codes to unlock the crates and get their hands on the lucre.

The 'Committed to the Rose' campaign ran alongside the Brand Roadshow experience. Demonstrating the role Canterbury plays in all levels of rugby, the experience was based on two very different rugby dressing rooms: one from the humble grassroots game, the other the elite level.


Putting Canterbury’s brand at the heart of the experience, fans were able to try on the Training product range and take on the “Diving Try” activity, as well as competing against England’s Sam Burgess in an exclusive “Speed Test”. More than 15,000 rugby fans took part in the experiences, all leaving with photos to share socially and a powerful Canterbury story to tell.Emirates

As one of Rugby World Cup 2015’s Worldwide Partners, one of Emirates’ key rights was providing the Flag Bearers at all 48 matches. The recruitment of these Flag Bearers focussed on a social media ‘treasure hunt’ at iconic locations across the 11 Host Cities, led by Ben Foden.

Once selected, Flag Bearers were put through their paces with all-weather training at Twickenham, giving them a taste of what might lie ahead. By the time the tournament kicked off, we’d already generated numerous coverage spikes in the national media…with the winners left with the simple task of leading the teams out in front of the world.


Synergy also created a genuinely innovative Emirates activation at the official Fanzones, designed to capture the feelings of excitement of Flag Bearers when coming out on to the pitch.

We created a structure housing 38 cameras (a nod to Emirates’ very own 360 degree camera which is used on board all of its Airbus A380 flights) that took a 360-degree, Matrix-style shot of fans’ RWC excitement. By stitching these images together, a short GIF animation was created which they could share socially from the Fanzones in both Richmond and Trafalgar Square.

Emirates Rugby World Cup Chiya Louie


Over 10,000 people took part, sharing their GIFs and generating 350,000 organic impressions across social media. Of those who participated, 80% said they were more likely to fly with Emirates as a result, making it not just an innovative activation, but an effective one too.

In addition, Emirates wanted to be part of the fan experience at all 13 stadiums and across social media. As part of the wider ‘Bringing Rugby Home’ brand campaign, Emirates engaged rugby fans from all nations with the #BringingRugbyHome promotion. Anyone posing for a photo with the Emirates cabin crew were entered into a draw to win a holiday to Dubai, which delivered over 1,500 entries and more than 1.5 million organic page views.




Coca-Cola’s RWC 2015 journey began back in 2013 when Synergy undertook a review of the GB sponsorship landscape. Given the brand’s heritage with the competition – a commercial partner of every Rugby World Cup since 1995 – Coca-Cola were always going to have a crucial role to play at the event. Synergy’s role was paramount in the internal sell-in of the business opportunity, and supporting the subsequent contract negotiations to ensure a rights package that would be appropriate for the intended activation approach.

Once the contract was signed, our work began supporting the operational and brand planning required to leverage Coca-Cola’s Rugby World Cup sponsorship throughout the business. This included managing the day-to-day relationship with Rugby World Cup Ltd and its commercial partner, IMG. Our role mainly focussed on strategic support and operational logistics, including the management of product provision for all participating teams and venues, with over 250,000 litres of product despatched to over 70 different delivery venues. Synergy also ensured Powerade’s field of play presence was world-class, providing teams a staggering 2,600 sipper bottles, 414 bottle carriers, and 90 eskies.

South Africa v Scotland - Group B: Rugby World Cup 2015

The Synergy team also managed Coca-Cola’s Rugby World Cup approvals process, optimising its use of RWC IP and helping to catalyse campaigns such as its biggest ever rugby on-pack promotion (‘Win A Ball’), Glaceau Smartwater’s #6WordSummaries, and social media match ball competitions. We also compiled a comprehensive review of the RWC sponsorship landscape, in the months preceding and during the tournament, giving Coca-Cola an in-depth look at all RWC-focussed brand activity.

During the tournament itself we adopted an on-site support role, which saw the team visit all 13 stadiums and over 60% of matches, ensuring Coca-Cola’s look of success was adhered to and its commercial rights were fully protected.


In a Tournament dominated by advertising spend, in-stadia activity and merchant partnerships, many will quite simply overlook the role and importance of PR. Fortunately, we don’t. Our aim was simple, we wanted to create iconic and engaging content for MasterCard that would not only live editorially, but would shape the brand’s activity throughout the campaign. For us, that started back in April 2014 when we created arguably the most iconic image of the Tournament. Dan Carter kicking a conversion through Tower Bridge initially generated international media traction and set the tone for our later activity, however, so strong was the PR image, that it has now been carried through the line by MasterCard.



The ‘making of’ footage was seen on the giant screens at Waterloo station, as well as being shown at every match in the 13 match venues. To ensure we had consistency, we created a full set of images starring our other ambassadors, including Johnson, Chabal, Robshaw, Wood and Lomu, which were used on ‘through the line’ campaigns, including direct marketing, online activation and even in the official RWC shops.


As sponsors of ITV’s Rugby World Cup broadcast, SSE had the perfect platform to increase brand awareness and reach fans watching games in the comfort of their own homes. It was our challenge to activate the broadcast rights in a way which encouraged fans to sign up for SSE Reward through the creative  ‘Sounds of Victory’ campaign.


Synergy launched #SoundsofVictory with a world first – developing specially engineered, custom-made sound bottles, which used state-of-the-art technology to capture the atmosphere from key moments in rugby history. A bottle was created for each of the home nations and on removal of the lid, the sounds played out to allow the listener to re-live a famous moment in that nation’s rugby history. The bottles were displayed at a pop-up shop in central London with special guests, Neil Back MBE (England), Ryan Jones (Wales), Stephen Ferris (Ireland) and Hugo Southwell (Scotland).  This innovative stunt created over 80 pieces of coverage across the home nations.


In true Synergy style, we were keen to react to any opportunities that emerged within the tournament and we didn’t have to wait long. It was made apparent that the All Blacks were kept awake at night by people partying in the streets of Cardiff.  SSE were quick to swoop in and make a delivery of #SoundsofVictory ear plugs to their hotel! Resulting in increased awareness of SSE’s affiliation with the tournament and smiling fans.

SSE Sounds of Victory earplugs

SSE also became the Official Presenting Partner of the film Building Jerusalem, a film that told the story of England’s greatest ever Rugby World Cup triumph in 2003. We used SSE’s affiliation with ‘Building Jerusalem’ as a newshook to promote and drive signups to the SSE Reward programme.  We did this by sharing the story of Building Jerusalem through the eyes of our ambassadors: Matt Dawson and Jason Leonard. Taking inspiration from Gogglebox, we filmed their reactions as they re-lived their experience of the tournament, capturing compelling content which was shared with national and online media. The campaign generated 21 pieces of coverage that included SSE Reward messaging in outlets such as Mail Online, Press Association and Daily Express and the video has achieved 125,965 views to date.