The launch presentation for the 'first phase' of the Rugby World Cup has been given, the phrase once in a life-time was used way too often and the rumours were true: The Feelers will be the voice (and, judging by the falsetto in the Jesus Jones song Right Here, Right Now, not a particularly good one) of the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
The main message of the campaign is 'You Gotta Be There'. And it's mostly focused on New Zealanders (with the ability to farm the content out internationally through existing networks) because, with over one million tickets to sell and research from past events showing around 70 percent of tickets are purchased domestically, it's imperative that Kiwis come out in droves to make the event a success.
RWC 2011 chief executive Martin Snedden drew a bit of a long, slightly cheesy bow trying to link the Jesus Jones/Feelers song with the event, saying the song was about a moment in history (the end of the Cold War) and it had worldwide significance; how it was about seizing the moment and making something an incredible success. Hey, just like the Rugby World Cup!
"I think it's a song people will be singing from the terraces, from the embankments and even from the stands," he said. Some, however, will presumably be groaning and, with our relatively new-found musical patriotism, wondering what was wrong with a New Zealand song.
Stangely, StopPress finds itself experiencing the feeling of spine-tingling excitement at the site of this fairly bland effort (let's be honest, everyone's already gagging for it) and being sick in our own mouth because, well, it's The Feelers. It's a weird juxtaposition, but, personal preference aside, the ad ticks all the traditional big event boxes and includes slow motion emotion, excited spectators, fireworks, stunning athleticism, bloodied bandages, big hits and, of course, a few war dances, so it should appeal to rugby lovers, the majority of whom are probably floating down the mainstream. In case you were wondering where all the Lord of the Rings scenery got to, this campaign is just to sell tickets to the event. The tourism push is still to come.
Snedden also showed a few of the 15 second 'reminder' ads featuring Jonah Lomu, Valerie Vili and Jeremy Wells ("avoid a lifetime of bitter regret," Wells implores the viewers). Susan Devoy also features, Daniel Vettori's ad was recorded last week and TVNZ weatherman Tamati Coffey is also booked in for a recording shortly. A few 'ordinary' people were even filmed to cover all the bases.
Shane Harmon, general manager of marketing and communications for RWC 2011, says "no cash payment was made to any of the celebs". And, as for The Feelers: "Can't give dollars but can say that The Feelers were very good and very reasonable to deal with and saw the opportunity of being involved in RWC as much bigger than being purely involved in our ad."
"We briefed Clems that it had to be a once in a lifetime opportunity. It had to be seen as a celebration. The message is to be part of it you had to part of it you had to go and be part of the game."
Harmon, who has been in the role for nearly two years, says Clemenger were signed up in October and the eight-week campaign is "TV-driven for certain". But the 60-second TVC is backed up by plenty of print (full page ads will be appearing in all the major papers tomorrow), radio, outdoor, online and a continued social media push (check out the World's Biggest Scrum Facebook application).
There will also be a big mailout, with the ticketing information due to be sent to every household in New Zealand (1.3 million to be exact) in the second week of April and a personalised direct mailout sent to all NZRU members. He wouldn't comment on the marketing budget allocated to the first phase.
Harmon says the first four weeks of the campaign are to raise awareness as to the availability of the tickets and how people can go about getting them ('where can we get tickets?' has been the most commonly asked question so far, Snedden says) and the following four weeks will be the retail campaign aimed at selling those tickets (the majority are signed up for in the last two weeks of availability, he says)
"That's very much the countdown period," he says. Then, depending how the initial campaign has gone, he says the next marketing push, to sell the individual tickets, will kick off.
While Heineken, Emirates and Mastercard (which released a special Rugby World Cup card in conjunction with ANZ today) are major sponsors, Harmon says the "green shoots" have meant there are far more commercial interest in the RWC this year.
"The IRB are speaking with a number of companies at the moment and they're optimistic."
For those worrying about the cost (the organisers freely admit the big games are expensive in Kiwi terms, but have offered plenty of cheap tickets to some of the other games), Harmon says RWC 2011 will be the first one offering a payment plan, which will allow Kiwis to pay off the tickets, whether a Team Pack or a Venue Pack, in installments.