As we head into the Autumn Internationals we see Vodafone’s first competition as sponsor of the Irish Rugby team. Having taken over from a major direct competitor Vodafone have some key challenges to overcome – one being the 50,000 people headed for Aviva stadium wearing last year’s Three sponsored jersey.
How to combat this? A swap shop… with a difference!
Every now and again there is an element of sponsorship activation comes along that is so elegant in its construction and effective in its result that you have to stand back and applaud. Vodafone came on board as official partner of the irish Rugby team in the summer. They have made a major investment in the sport and while there are many good reasons for so doing there also has to be a business case. Taking over from main market rivals Three presents an additional imperative in that jerseys bought only last year, in advance of the Rugby World Cup and this year’s Six Nations will carry the branding of their opposition. While the player transition is easily accomplished through a new Canterbury jersey, the 50,000 in the Aviva Stadium or walking the streets of Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick or Belfast is a trickier problem. An easy way to solve problems of scale is to throw money at them and offering a fifty per cent discount on the price of the new jersey is a big financial commitment on the part of the sponsor, likely to hit the mark with fans. And here’s the elegant part. The launch of the Vodafone #TeamOfUs Swap Shop in Dublin yesterday came with some very smart caveats. In order to claim your discount you can bring any old Irish Jersey not into Lifestyle or Elvery’s but into your nearest Vodafone store. You will then be sent a discount voucher to your Vodafone account mobile phone and claim your discount online. If you are not a Vodafone customer then you will have to do one of two things. Either become one or find a friend or relative who is one already and get them to do the swap for you. It puts the sponsor front and centre stage, will doubtless tempt a number to transfer over and keep those already in the camp loyal because who knows what comes next. Elegant then and effective. The old jerseys will be collected and donated to Mellon Educate, a charity in Africa that helps to build schools and improve education. Another winner for the sport and the brand. “The Irish rugby team brings the whole country together, and we want to drive support for the team ahead of the Guinness Series,” said Vodafone Head of Brand Anne Mulcahy. “Fans are central to the success of the team, so we wanted to help them show their support by kitting them out in the same jerseys as the players.” Donncha O’Callaghan and Eoin Reddan were on hand to man the pop up Vodafone #TeamOfUs Swap Shop today in Dublin City Centre. The team will wear the jersey when Ireland take on New Zealand in a momentous fixture in Soldier Field, Chicago, on Saturday, November 5th.