Synergy has worked with RBS on its sponsorship of rugby since 2003, when the brand took title sponsorship of the RBS 6 Nations Championship. Over the past two seasons, Synergy and RBS have worked together to ensure that the bank’s support of the game creates value for grassroots rugby clubs and supporters, through the RBS RugbyForce club initiative.
Synergy helped develop RugbyForce four years ago to display RBS Group’s commitment to rugby and their acknowledgement of the crucial importance of amateur clubs in supporting the game. RBS Group and its retail divisions – NatWest, RBS and Ulster Bank – deliver RugbyForce across the UK and Ireland. Working in partnership with each of the respective rugby unions, they help clubs at the grassroots of the game to improve their facilities and provide guidance on making their club a more sustainable business.
RugbyForce provides an opportunity for clubs to gather members, supporters, family and friends for a weekend of fun-filled DIY. Clubs are provided with online guidance and tools to help them coordinate a community-wide effort to give their facilities a ‘make-over’.
Since its pilot year (as RBS RugbyLink), RugbyForce has gone from strength to strength, with increasing numbers of clubs signing up year on year. As a sign of its expansion, this year, the fourth of the programme, RugbyForce has been delivered by RBS’s Group retail divisions in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. Synergy has a fundamental role in shaping the logistics and strategy of the programme’s execution, as well as managing and implementing the supporting communications in England and Wales primarily.
Clubs registered for RugbyForce receive a range of rewards, from vouchers to buy DIY goods to t-shirts and banners. In addition to online support tools, new for 2012 is the club education tool which provides clubs with practical tips to help them become more sustainable, and is being offered to each participating club. The tool will help clubs to grow and become more sustainable, and build upon the great work conducted by club members and volunteers during RugbyForce Weekend. Additionally there are a range of incentives available to registered clubs, including visits from England and Wales rugby legends over the RugbyForce Weekend.
Synergy’s communications programme involved managing media at each event on the final Weekend and deploying rugby ambassadors at key spikes in the programme to drive registrations and awareness, whilst ensuring a consistent message in all online and offline communications. This involved ticket competitions, sponsored columns and social media outreach, as well as strategic use of ambassadors and the proactive generation of RugbyForce news stories.
The RBS RugbyForce Facebook page – created and managed by Synergy – has a strong and increasing fanbase with nearly 3,000 fans interacting and uploading photos from their club’s RBS RugbyForce Weekend preparations. This year, Synergy continued to manage the RBS RugbyForce Facebook page, while also establishing and running the NatWest RugbyForce Facebook page to reflect the rollout of the programme under the NatWest name in Wales.
Throughout the RBS 6 Nations Championship and leading up to the RugbyForce Weekend, the PR programme maximised awareness of the initiative culminating in 868 exposures for RugbyForce across print, radio, TV and online. In 2012 RugbyForce saw over 400 clubs register across England and Wales.
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