The magnitude of the Ireland v Argentina match is evident in this week’s RWC Insider. The excitement during the build-up to the game included huge volumes of activity online and across social media. However, the impact and disappointment about the result for sponsors and media owners is also apparent.
The RWC Insider is brought to you by Livewire, Radical and Ignite Research – all members of Core Media Group. For earlier insights on the Rugby World Cup check out Week 1, Week 2, Week 3 or Week 4 of the RWC Insider and make sure to follow @LivewireIRL for daily updates for the remainder of the tournament.
Decline in viewers
Ireland’s game against Argentina on Sunday reached an average of 1.09m viewers – peaking at 1.27m during the last ten minutes of the game. This was an average decrease of 59k (5%) compared to the Ireland v France last weekend, with the match peaking at 246k less viewers than last week (18%).
Despite starting the game with roughly the same viewership (741k) for IRE v ARG, compared to 774k for IRE v FRA), Ireland’s collapse in the first and last fifteen minutes meant that there wasn’t the same growth in viewership during the match. Viewership from the first whistle to the last grew by 61% for Ireland vs Argentina, compared to 85% for Ireland vs France. For the first time in the tournament there were more viewers switching off the game during a 10 minute period of play than were tuning into it.
Perhaps not surprisingly solus ads – designed to give brands access to peak viewership immediately before and after kick off – had the biggest impact of the tournament during the quarter finals weekend. AIB reached 1.17m viewers with its solus directly after the final whistle of the Ireland v Argentina match. Three reached 622k viewers immediately before kick-off of the New Zealand v France match. Solus ads delivered on average 14% more viewers over the quarter-finals weekend compared with the more traditional commercial breaks.
Irish interest in the RWC has increased by 3% from the start of the tournament to this weekend, with the largest increase (5%) coming from women. 53% of Irish women stated that they had an interest in the tournament this month – up from 48% in September.
Average awareness of sponsors has increased from 31% to 34% from the tournament start to this weekend. Paddy Power made the largest increase in awareness as a sponsor of the IRFU, jumping from 21% of consumers being aware on September 14th to 32% aware on October 19th.
Fans who have attended RWC matches feel, on average, 23% more positive towards sponsors compared with fans who have not managed to attend a game.
The momentum created by the Aer Lingus Irish team sponsorship has continued. The brand’s RWC campaign, which includes the “Ireland’s Call” video and IRFU livery on a fleet of planes, has made the biggest impact on fans who didn’t attend a game. 42% say they feel more positively towards the brand as a result of their sponsorship.
Trending on Google
“Rugby World Cup 2015” made it to the top of the search trends at the weekend, with over 200k searches, despite football related searches taking up 8 of the top 20 remaining trends from the day. “Craig Joubert” and “Ireland Rugby” were the top two trending topics in the UK on Sunday, beating Star Wars (new trailer) and Newcastle United (who finally won a match) to the top spots. Craig Joubert, who controversially penalised Scotland’s John Hardie in the final minute at Twickenham, was searched over 200k times during the day. Interesting, Ireland was the only team that made it into the UK Google trending list at the weekend, receiving 100k searches.
Searches for Ireland’s competitors have predictably peaked on game days. However, search traffic starts to increase three days before each match and lasts one day after, before returning to the usual search pattern. On average, search for Ireland’s opposing team is 25% of the match-day search volume in Ireland. An opportunity exists for brands to schedule content, social spend & digital activations according to this trend.
Guinness, prohibited from referring to the RWC as it is not a tournament sponsor, has been leveraging the competition by releasing social content in the immediate aftermath of a selection of matches. The brand, which has a long association with Irish rugby for over thirty years, first shared an image of the Japanese team huddled into the shape of a head of Guinness after the team’s famous win over South Africa. The image generated 13k likes, 1.4k shares & over 200 comments on Facebook, as well as being picked up by wider media, such as Marketing Magazine. The brand also released content after Romania’s comeback against Canada and Ireland’s attritional win over France, but has since not created anything after Ireland’s defeat to Argentina.
While Irish team sponsor, Guinness, has tapped into the buzz around the tournament, RWC Worldwide Partner, Heineken, has tapped into the national sentiment behind the Irish team. This week Heineken generated 2.2k likes and 167 shares in the aftermath of Ireland’s defeat with a post titled “Proud”. The brand started its reactive campaign by sharing “Thank5”, a tribute to the loss Paul O’Connell from the Irish team the previous week. These two pieces of content received a combined 4.4k likes, 400 shares and 150 comments on Facebook.
While Heineken and Guinness have shared their reactionary content through social media, Three have used print advertising to activate its sponsorship of the Irish Rugby Team after the quarter final results. The half page ad featured in both the Irish Times and Irish Independent sports sections on Monday, with a combined ABC circulation of 185k.
Emirates has continued to be one of the most visible sponsors at RWC stadia. Last weekend the brand partnered with fellow RWC sponsor, Canon, to create a 360° fan celebration booth at the Millennium Stadium. The booth, which captures imagery from 360 degrees, is a continuation of its Flag Bearer competition which has been running since the start of the tournament. The GIF can be immediately shared to social media, with fans who tag @Emirates entering into a competition to win flights to Dubai.
J.K. Rowling, the Harry Potter author, was the 5th most mentioned tweeter in Ireland during the weekend. Rowling (@jk_rowling) was mentioned a combined 319 times across the Irish Twittersphere, creating 621k impressions and is the latest celebrity to make an impact on the tournament after Niall Horan (@NiallOfficial) last weekend.
GO IRELAND! #RugbyWorldCup2015
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) October 18, 2015
Interestingly – despite the size of its population – the U.S.A. accounted for 33% of global Twitter authors mentioning “rugby” at the weekend, compared with a combined 31% for Scotland, Wales and England.
Ireland vs Argentina
#IRLVARG accounted for 89% of all of Ireland’s matchday hashtag mentions at the weekend. This was a 1,382% growth on the use of #IRLVFRA last weekend. Interestingly the excitement on Twitter was not reflected on television, where the audience actually declined from last week’s win over France.
Hungry for More?
The RWC Insider is brought to you through a collaborative effort from Livewire, Radical and Ignite Research – all members of Core Media Group. For more insights on the Rugby World Cup so far check out Week 1, Week 2, Week 3 or Week 4 of the RWC Insider, or follow us on @LivewireIRL for daily updates for the remainder of the tournament.